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Doctor insights on: Are You Born With Narcolepsy Or Can You Get It Later In Life

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Are you born with narcolepsy or can you get it later in life?

Are you born with narcolepsy or can you get it later in life?

Not born with it: Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that usually develops over the teenage years. It is likely autoimmune related. There are rare situation when narcolepsy occurs in multiple sclerosis, trauma or brain tumor. Narcolepsy is caused in most patients by a "hypocretin" deficiency in the hypothalamus. ...Read more

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Dr. Michelle Zetoony
274 doctors shared insights

Narcolepsy (Definition)

Narcolepsy is a condition characterized by extreme sleepiness every few hours during the day and frequent, unexpected sleep attacks. This sleep disorder is believed to be caused by a decrease in a protein in the brain. There is no cure for narcolepsy, but its ...Read more


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Can i get narcolepsy or you're born with it?

Acquired : Narcolepsy develops usually around teenager years and is felt to be acquired. We don't know the exact mechanism, but some type on immunological event might trigger it. It is very rare to be born with narcolepsy. ...Read more

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How common is it for somebody to get narcolepsy?

How common is it for somebody to get narcolepsy?

It depends: The answer depends on what population you are talking about. In the us, narcolepsy is estimated to affect 1 in 2000 people. It is much more common in japan, very rare in israel. ...Read more

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My sister says she has narcolepsy. Are family members more likely to get the same thing?

My sister says she has narcolepsy. Are family members more likely to get the same thing?

Yes: Narcolepsy is a genetic abnormality and can occur in multiple family members although many single isolated cases also occur. Symptoms generally begin in adolescence. There are tests that can be done to see if you have the genetic susceptibility to narcolepsy, but they don't necessarily indicate you have the condition. ...Read more

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When I don't get enough sleep I have symptoms. Could it be narcolepsy?

When I don't get enough sleep I have symptoms. Could it be narcolepsy?

Probably not: Inadequate sleep can cause lots of symptoms: fatigue, irritability, headaches, memory and attention problems, increased accidents, etc. The symptoms resolve with adequate sleep. Narcolepsy is a chronic medical condition which is associated with excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, vivid dreams, and sudden drop attacks associated with strong emotion. The epworth sleepiness scale can help. ...Read more

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Does narcolepsy and cataplexy usually get worse over time? Is rapid change in severity over 12 months normal?

Does narcolepsy and cataplexy usually get worse over time?  Is rapid change in severity  over 12 months normal?

It slowly progresses: Both narcolepsy and cataplexy gradually worsen over decades. Rapid change is likely some other factor; consider a repeat overnight sleep study to rule out coexisting sleep apnea, restless legs, poor sleep efficiency, or other causes of unrestful sleep. General tips: daytime naps, regular sleep-wake cycle, good sleep hygiene, routine activity during daytime, aerobic exercise, and sunlight exposure. ...Read more

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Can you have narcolepsy but rarely get sleep attacks? I usually can feel it coming and lie down to sleep, but i meet all the other criteria.

Can you have narcolepsy but rarely get sleep attacks? I usually can feel it coming and lie down to sleep, but i meet all the other criteria.

Yes: Yes. You can still have narcolepsy and not have significantly evident abrupt sleep intrusions, but usually this is when treated. If you feel sleepiness coming on and are able to go lie down, likely excessive daytime sleepiness. Need a sleep study then an mslt (napping test). ...Read more

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