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Doctor insights on: Narcolepsy

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Dr. Michelle Zetoony
287 Doctors shared insights

Narcolepsy (Overview)

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 symptoms can be controlled.


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Can you develop narcolepsy after age 40?

Can you develop narcolepsy after age 40?

Yes, you can.: Yes, you can. Although narcolepsy most often begins early in life (teens and 20's), it can begin at any age including in young children and in midde-aged or older people. It causes daytime sleepiness. However, with daytime sleepiness beginning in the 40s, other causes including insufficient sleep and sleep apnea must be considered.

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Dr. Michelle Zetoony
287 Doctors shared insights

Narcolepsy (Overview)

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 symptoms can be controlled.


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Gonna nod off while at work, could this be symptom of narcolepsy?

Gonna nod off while at work, could this be symptom of narcolepsy?

Could be but. ..: Could be but generally this could be a symptoms of many other things as well. People often fall asleep actively engaged in activities with narcolepsy. So it may or may not be sitting at computer at work, particularly in the afternoon. If this is recurrent, see sleep professional.

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I have several symptoms of narcolepsy, do I just go to a regular dr. To treat it?

Nonspecific: The symptoms can be very nonspecific. It would be important to rule out the "mimicers" of narcolepsy with medical tests and screening questionnaires. If there are more specific signs like cataplexy, a regular internist or gp may not feel comfortable diagnosing and managing. Specialist may be recommended. See pcp first if this has never been done and see what recommendatoin is re: specialist.

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Sometimes I feel sleepy in the afternoon. Is that a sign of narcolepsy? Thank you very much. :)

Possibly: GabitaM, while it is true that patients with narcolepsy can have sleepiness in the afternoon, there are a lot of other much more common reasons for this as well. Much more concerning for narcolepsy are "cataplexy" (episodes of weakness with emotion), waking dreams, sleep paralysis (waking up but being unable to move) and dreaming with short naps. Lack of sleep, insomnia and apnea are possible.

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Is it possible to have a narcolepsy diagnosis in a patient who never had REM sleep during an mslt's naps?

Is it possible to have a narcolepsy diagnosis in a patient who never had REM sleep during an mslt's naps?

Yes: Other reasons may occur for no rem. If person with cataplexy they do not need this test for absolute diagnosis. If patient on medications that suppress rem that could be another cause.

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Why do people still use a blood test for narcolepsy?

Genetic link: Narcolepsy is a chronic medical condition which leads to excessive daytime sleepiness in addition to other symptoms. There is a blood test which looks for a specific cellular marker (hla dqb1*0602) which is associated with narcolepsy. Everyone having the marker does not have narcolepsy, but most people with narcolepsy have the marker.

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Why does a gluten free diet help reduce narcolepsy and cataplexy symptoms for some narcoleptics even if tests show they have no gluten sensitivities?

Why does a gluten free diet help reduce narcolepsy and cataplexy symptoms for some narcoleptics even if tests show they have no gluten sensitivities?

It probably doesn't.: I don't believe that a gluten-free diet would treat narcolepsy. A thorough search on pubmed did not reveal any publications demonstrating a connection between narcolepsy or cataplexy and gluten consumption. It is possible that by adopting a gluten-free diet, one might also consume fewer simple carbohydrates, and that could reduce reactive hypoglycemia (which can make you feel tired).

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In what way can I know if I have narcolepsy?

In what way can I know if I have narcolepsy?

Symptoms + testing: Excessive daytime sleepiness despite obtaining adequate sleep at night, cataplexy (losing muscle tone in response to a strong emotion), and sleep paralysis are some symptoms. Consider an evaluation by a sleep specialist who will evaluate your symptoms and order testing as well as treatment (if appropriate).

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Which part of the brain causes narcolepsy?

Which part of the brain causes narcolepsy?

Hypothalamus: The part of the brain known as the hypothalamus is responsible for narcolepsy. Lack of a neurotransmitter called hypocretin (orexin) in this part of the brain results in the illness.

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Funny how a diagnosis doesn't mean much till you have it. What is narcolepsy?

Chronic condition: Narcolepsy is a chronic medical condition caused by the loss of a chemical in the brain (orexin/hypocretin). The symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness, vivid dreams, sleep paralysis, and sometimes the brief loss of muscle tone (cataplexy). A sleep study can make the diagnosis. See your doctor if concerned as there are treatments. Www. Wakeupnarcolepsy. Org is a good source of information.

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Which type of medication is used to treat narcolepsy?

Variety: We usually prescribe wake promoting against such as mode finial and armodafinil, stimulants such as ritalin (methylphenidate). Recently, new developments allow us to improve the sleep of narcolepsy patients by using gammahydroxybutyrate at night.

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I have successfully treated narcolepsy (take provigil, xyrem). About a year ago, I suddenly developed severe chronic insomnia. What could cause this?

I have successfully treated narcolepsy (take provigil, xyrem). About a year ago, I suddenly developed severe chronic insomnia. What could cause this?

Insomnia: Check the time and amount of Provigil that you take identify other stressors try Ambien (zolpidem) short term or increase xyrem also cbti has good results.

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If I want to be in the military, will I have to find a treatment for my narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy: While there are treatments for narcolepsy, the disease process may make you non-deployable. This would have to be evaluated by your sleep md and the military physician.

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What are the treatments for narcolepsy?

What are the treatments for narcolepsy?

Meds and behaviors: A number of medications are approved for treatment. Also behavioral therapy can be very important including naps and slep hygiene. For list of medications and more information about them look at narolepsy network.

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Permanent cure for narcolepsy?

Not yet: There are powerful medications available to make to symptoms of narcolepsy tolerable. A sleep specialist can help you. We hope in the near future to have hypocretin modifying medications available. Trials are currently underway. Ultimately, stem cell therapy may be the cure for the disease.

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Does modafinil (narcolepsy) drugs have chemical preservatives in them? Like BHA, TBHQ, etc..... And why are they white color is white color natural?

Does modafinil (narcolepsy) drugs have chemical preservatives in them? Like BHA, TBHQ, etc..... And why are they white color is white color natural?

Something like: All tablets are mostly "inert ingredients." The full prescribing information for a drug lists them. The full prescribing information is what you find in the PDR or on line.

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What could be the cause of sudden dizziness? My boyfriend has narcolepsy. Meds: lilyfluoxitine. Its when he gets up. Not feeling nauseous though.

What could be the cause of sudden dizziness? My boyfriend has narcolepsy. Meds: lilyfluoxitine. Its when he gets up. Not feeling nauseous though.

Several ideas: I am not sure whether the narcolepsy is related to the dizziness. I have 3 possibilities for the dizziness. Dizziness is a very non-specific symptom. If it is light headedness, this is a central problem and is related to either low blood pressure or autonomic dysfunction. If it is vertigo, then it may be bppv and will spontaneously resolve or with head excersizes. Rarely it is central (brain).

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Is narcolepsy known to be a genetic disorder?

Is narcolepsy known to be a genetic disorder?

Yes and no: In dogs narcolepsy is a genetic disorder. In humans the gene is not sufficient by itself to cause narcolepsy. Something else triggers it, so that only one of a pair of identical twins might have it. We do not know what triggers it, but it could be an infection that triggers an auto-immune response.

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