Archive for the ‘Narcolepsy’ Category

Treatment of Narcolepsy : Medications

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

The main symptom of narcolepsy, excessive daytime sleepiness, can be partially relieved with stimulants such as modafinil (Provigil), methylphenidate (Ritalin and other brand names) or dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), as well as with regularly scheduled short naps during the day.

Cataplexy and sleep paralysis can be treated with a variety of medicines that can make you more resistant to entering REM sleep. Most of these medicines were developed for use as antidepressants. Examples of effective medications include protriptyline (Vivactil), clomipramine (Anafranil), venlafaxine (Effexor) and fluoxetine (Prozac). Cataplexy also can be treated with sodium oxybate (also called gamma hydroxybutyrate or Xyrem), although the use of this drug is tightly controlled because it has been abused recreationally. For reasons that are not well understood, a low dose of this medicine reduces cataplexy attacks and improves daytime sleepiness in people who have narcolepsy with cataplexy, even though the drug causes sedation in most people without narcolepsy.

Psychological counseling may be important for difficulties associated with self-esteem and for emotional support, especially since people with narcolepsy have difficulty doing tasks that require concentration, and may be regarded as unmotivated by family and peers.

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What are Symptoms of Narcolepsy

Friday, August 7th, 2009

The main symptoms of narcolepsy include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) – overwhelming drowsiness and an uncontrollable need to sleep during the day
  • Cataplexy – the sudden loss of involuntary muscle tone that may be triggered by sudden emotional reactions such as laughter, anger, surprise, or fear. A study found that people with narcolepsy with cataplexy have low levels of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) hypocretin-1.
  • Vivid hallucinations upon sleep onset or awakening
  • Short episodes of total paralysis at the beginning or end of sleep

Additional symptoms include restless nighttime sleep and automatic behavior. Automatic behavior is when someone continues to function (talking, putting things away, etc.) during episodes of sleep but has no memory of performing the actions upon awakening.

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What is Narcolepsy : An Overview

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder with no known cause. Its onset can occur at any time throughout life, but its peek onset is during the teen years. The main characteristic of narcolepsy is excessive and overwhelming daytime sleepiness, even after adequate nighttime sleep.

A person with narcolepsy is likely to become drowsy or to fall asleep, often at inappropriate times and places. Daytime sleep attacks may occur with or without warning and may be rresistible. They may also experience periods of catalepsy, temporary decrease or loss of muscle control, especially when getting excited. Hypnagogic hallucinations, vivid, often frightening, dream-like experiences, occur while falling asleep or waking up. Sleep paralysis, temporary inability to talk or move when falling asleep or waking up. It may last a few seconds to minutes. In addition, nighttime sleep may be fragmented with frequent awakenings. Daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, and hypnagogic hallucinations can also occur in people who do not have narcolepsy. If sufficiently troublesome can be reduced significantly in some people with Tricyclic antidepressants (eg. Imipramine), which suppress REM sleep.

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