What Is Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is broadly defined as excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden loss of muscle tone (Cataplexy).
But to be formally diagnosed, staying overnight in a sleep center is required. Several questions will be asked during the visit, as many tests will be completed.
IE. Sleep history, Sleep records, Polysomnography, and Multiple sleep latency tests.
Narcolepsy Definition & Symptoms
Narcolepsy is usually defined by two types Narcolepsy Types one and two.
Narcolepsy type one was formerly known as “narcolepsy with cataplexy.” Not all patients diagnosed with Narcolepsy type one experience episodes of cataplexy.
Narcolepsy Type Two was formerly known as “narcolepsy without cataplexy.” People with Narcolepsy Type Two have many symptoms similar to those with NT1 but do not have cataplexy.
What Causes Narcolepsy
A full definition can be found here at www.sleepfoundation.org/narcolepsy.
The exact causes and risk factors for Narcolepsy are not fully understood.
Narcolepsy type one is a disorder marked by the loss of neurons in the brain responsible for making hypocretin, also known as orexin.
This chemical helps regulate wakefulness and sleep.
People with Narcolepsy type one have a loss of 90% or more of the average number of hypocretin-making neurons12.
A genetically susceptible individual may experience damage to these neurons13 in an autoimmune fashion after an environmental trigger.
Some evidence suggests that the Narcolepsy type fluctuates seasonally, potentially linked to the influenza (flu) virus.
A rise in the onset of Narcolepsy type one was also seen after the H1N1 epidemic. Although this was exceedingly rare, a particular brand of vaccine was used for Narcolepsy type one.
Possible connections to other types of infections have been found as well.
Based on this data, one theory about Narcolepsy type one is that an external trigger activates the immune system in a way that causes it to attack the brain’s neurons that make hypocretin.
However, this autoimmune response inconsistently occurs and is not the only cause.
Researchers have found that as many as 98% of people with Narcolepsy type one carry a gene variant known as DQB1*060215.
Although this explanation of Narcolepsy type one is widely accepted, it is not yet definitively proven16.
Even though researchers know more than ever about Narcolepsy type one, most individual cases still occur with no clear, direct cause.
People with a family history of Narcolepsy type one have about a 1-2% chance of developing the condition. Overall, this is a small risk but a significant increase in risk relative to people without a family history.
In rare cases, Narcolepsy type one occurs because of another medical condition that causes damage to the parts of the brain containing hypocretin-producing neurons.
This may be known as secondary Narcolepsy, which can occur from brain trauma or an infection in the central nervous system.
Narcolepsy Type Two Little is known about the biology of risk factors for Narcolepsy Type Two.
Some experts believe NT2 is simply a less pronounced loss of hypocretin-producing neurons, but people with NT2 are usually not deficient in hypocretin17.
Others think Narcolepsy Type Two may primarily be a precursor to NT1. Still, cataplexy has only been observed to develop in about 10% of cases of people initially diagnosed with Narcolepsy Type Two.
In some instances, Narcolepsy Type Two has been reported following a viral infection, but most cases do not have an established cause.
As with Narcolepsy Type one, Narcolepsy Type Two can arise because of other medical conditions such as head trauma, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases affecting the brain.
Narcolepsy Treatment Drugs
Unfortunately, the is no cure for Narcolepsy and only medication treatment.
Modafinil and Armodafinil is the primary treatment to stimulate the central nervous system. Modafinil and Armodafinil aren’t as addictive.
And don’t produce the highs and lows often associated with other stimulants.
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