Feeling extra-sleepy? Get tested for narcolepsy
Many people feel extremely sluggish every day especially as they get older. We are used to blame it all on our age, insufficient sleep, routine work, and so on. But there is a medical condition that makes you excessively sleepy during the day which is called narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a rare condition yet in can develop in an adult individual without any predisposition to it. The average age at which narcolepsy is diagnosed is around 30 years.
If you think that lately you had become much sleepier during the day or even fall asleep during the day, have bad nighttime sleep, we advise you to go to a doctor specializing in sleep-wakefulness disorders called somnologist.
When can you suspect narcolepsy?
The condition is distinguished by the excessive daytime sleepiness and even the episodes of sudden falling asleep. If this sleepiness attack occurs, it seems that you have been deprived of sleep for 48 hours. Besides, it is very difficult to wake up the person affected by the disorder as the sleep that occurs in narcolepsy is deep. Besides, the other symptoms include:
- Sudden muscle weakness during the day, especially in intense emotions, i.e. anger, laughter, crying, fear, stress, etc. This symptom is called cataplexy and it can result in such a severe muscle weakening that the legs won’t hold you up.
- Trouble falling asleep. Surprisingly, while being excessively sleepy during the day, individuals with narcolepsy find it hard to fall asleep at their own will in the night.
- Bad night sleep. Narcolepsy is commonly accompanied by frequent night awakenings and trouble falling asleep after them.
- Sleep-related hallucinations. Scientifically they are called hypnagogic hallucinations. These hallucinations tend to be very vivid and believable. They usually occur when a person is falling asleep or awakens.
- Sleep paralysis. This is a symptom that also occurs while falling asleep or at the awakening. It is described as a person while fully awake mentally has an unawake body which results in an inability to move or talk. It is also commonly related to nightmarish hallucinations.
If you think that you may have some of these symptoms or even several of the symptoms, you should definitely find a somnology specialist or at least go to your physician and get the tests appointed.
How can be narcolepsy diagnosed?
First of all, your doctor can suspect that you have the disorder based on the survey and medical examination. The symptoms of narcolepsy are pretty distinct so a qualified medical worker can easily suspect this disorder and appoint you special tests that include:
- Polysomnography. It is a study of the patient’s sleep using specialized computer systems. Various indicators of the sleeping connected to the devices that are recorded on the computer are recorded. Recorded parameters include snoring, respiratory flow, respiratory movements of the abdominal wall and chest, peripheral blood oxygen saturation, body position, electroencephalogram, electrocardiogram, electromyogram, electrooculogram, leg movements, and sleep video. After recording indicators, data processing begins. The result is a hypnogram, a curve containing information about the structure of sleep, the quality and quantity of its stages and phases. The study of the data helps the specialist to identify the causes of sleep disturbances.
- Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT). This test is also made with the special computer systems but it provider other indicators for the diagnosis. The test is used to identify the time an individual starts wanting to sleep after a daytime nap, how fast they fall asleep, what phase of sleep occurs first, whether sleepiness is related to tiredness or due to excessive sleepiness caused by a disorder. The test is made multiple times during the day after a night sleep test. The daytime tests include possibilities for napping 2 or 4 times a day with an interval of 2 hours.
- Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging of the head. These tests are appointed to identify whether there are any changes in the brain structure that can be caused by injury, infectious disease, and so on. If there is a proof of organic lesion of the brain, the treatment can be radically different from the one prescribed in narcolepsy of unknown nature.
What can cause narcolepsy development?
To this date, the primary cause of narcolepsy onset hadn’t been found. Researchers assume that it is the autoimmune (incorrect immune system response) breakdown of the hypothalamus neurons. It causes a decrease in the volume of hypocretin-1 level cerebrospinal fluid, a neurotransmitter responsible for wakefulness. There are different causes that can result in such wrongful organism reaction to its own cells:
- Brain trauma;
- Brain infection;
- Genetic factors (i.e. if someone from your family has the disorder).
As there is not a clear understanding of what triggers the disease, the prophylaxis measures recommended for the disorder prevention are the same as for the other diseases: healthy diet, regular exercising, reduction of stress, timely treated diseases, and so on.
What medications are used to treat narcolepsy?
There are no drugs that can cure the disease. This means that the medicines used for narcolepsy are aimed at the elimination of the symptoms rather than the cause of them. There are two groups of medicines that are used extensively for sleepiness disorders: amphetamines and new-generation wakefulness-promoting drugs analeptics/nootropics based on Modafinil.
Comparison of Amphetamine and (Modalert) Modafinil
Likelihood of side effects is high.
- Psychological and physical dependence;
- Dry mouth;
- Pain in the abdomen,
- Decreased appetite;
- Hands tremor;
- Low sex drive;
- Weight loss;
- Panic attacks,
- Elevated arterial pressure;
Likelihood of side effects is low.
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding;
- Drug dependence;
- Cardiovascular disease;
- Elevated levels of thyroid hormones;
- Use of MAO inhibitors;
- Bipolar disorder;
- High arterial tension,
- Liver or kidney disease;
- Psychotic disorders;
- Raynaud syndrome;
- Tourette syndrome.
- Allergy to Modafinil,
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding;
- Elevated arterial pressure or vessels disorders associated with the use of stimulants,
- Liver cirrhosis.
- Severe heart disease.
The use of Modafinil is also indicated in other disorders associated with sleepiness or in sleepiness associated with insufficient night rest so you can buy Modalert and use it to get energized even if the diagnosis of narcolepsy isn’t confirmed.
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