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Posts for: February, 2020

By Jeremy D McConnell, MD
February 25, 2020
Category: Medical
Tags: Narcolepsy  

Narcolepsy is basically a lifelong disorder of the nervous system that results in abnormal or irregular sleep patterns that could negatively impact your quality of life and general health. According to the Stanford Medicine Center for Narcolepsy, it’s a rare disorder that is estimated to affect approximately 1 out of 2,000 individuals. Narcolepsy symptoms typically start to present themselves around the ages of 10 to 25, but it’s usually not recognized immediately.

Narcolepsy causes severe sleep attacks and daytime sleepiness. In most cases, it likewise causes temporary and unexpected muscle control loss, commonly called cataplexy. While narcolepsy isn’t fatal, episodes could result in life-threatening circumstances, injuries, and accidents. Here at Florida Sleep Specialists in Bradenton and Sarasota, FL, Dr. Jeremy McConnell, MD, can diagnose narcolepsy and recommend the best treatments suited to your case.

Causes of Narcolepsy

Unfortunately, no one really knows what causes narcolepsy up to this day. However, studies have shown that most individuals who suffer from cataplexy and narcolepsy have a reduced amount of hypocretin, which is a brain protein. One of the primary functions of this protein is regulating the sleep-wake cycle.

That said, studies state that low levels of hypocretin may be the result of various factors. One factor is a gene mutation that causes low hypocretin levels and attacks healthy cells in the body. Other factors including infections, toxin exposure, and stress may likewise contribute to developing narcolepsy.

Common Symptoms of Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy symptoms are typically attributed to improperly regulated REM or rapid eye movement sleep. The intensity and frequency of the symptoms vary from one person to another and can include the following:

  • Muscle loss control or cataplexy
  • Severe daytime drowsiness and sleepiness
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Hallucinations when trying to fall asleep

These symptoms might occur regardless of whatever you’re doing or the time of day. When this occurs, your REM sleep happens spontaneously and uncontrollably. In addition, take note that narcolepsy could be related to other sleep disorders including insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and obstructive sleep apnea.

Concerned? Give Us a Call

Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Jeremy McConnell, MD, here at the Florida Sleep Specialists in Bradenton and Sarasota, FL. Dial (941) 792-8383 for more details.