If you’re living with narcolepsy, you’ll often struggle to stay awake for lengthy periods of time. Those with this sleep disorder feel drowsy during the daytime, sometimes to the point of experiencing sleep attacks.
Though there is no cure for narcolepsy, Sacramento Ear, Nose & Throat can help you manage your symptoms so they have a minimal impact on your life. Whether you want to further your career or spend time building relationships, we can make that a reality by helping you manage your symptoms.
What Causes Narcolepsy?
Typically, falling asleep begins with the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage, during which brain waves slow down. This is followed by the REM stage, which is when most dreaming occurs. However, people with narcolepsy enter REM sleep without experiencing NREM sleep.
Though the exact cause of narcolepsy is unknown, potential factors include:
- Low levels of the neurochemical hypocretin, which helps regulate sleep
- Autoimmune disorders
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Genetics, though the risk of a parent passing narcolepsy to a child is only about 1%
What Is Narcolepsy With Cataplexy?
In some instances, narcolepsy symptoms include a sudden loss of muscle tone, known as cataplexy. This is referred to as type 1 narcolepsy, while type 2 narcolepsy does not include these symptoms.
How Common Is Narcolepsy?
In the United States, between 135,000 to 200,000 people have narcolepsy.
What Are The Symptoms Of Narcolepsy?
- Frequent daytime sleepiness
- Involuntary episodes of falling asleep during normal daytime activities
- Sleep paralysis
- Changes in REM sleep
- Vivid dreams
- Sudden loss of muscle tone
How Is Narcolepsy Diagnosed?
Our ENT sleep specialist will ask you about your symptoms, focusing on their length, severity and impact on your life. They may also ask if any family members experience similar symptoms, if anything improves or worsens your symptoms and how often you fall asleep during the day.
Diagnostic procedures may include keeping a diary of sleep patterns, sleep tests and filling out the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, which asks about how sleepy you are in certain situations.
What Can I Do To Manage My Symptoms?
Though there is no cure for narcolepsy, medication and lifestyle changes can reduce the impact of your symptoms.
If our ENT determines that medication is a good option for you, they’ll prescribe the one that may work best for you. Potential options include stimulants, SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclic antidepressants and sodium oxybate.
Potential lifestyle changes include:
- Maintaining a regular schedule
- Taking short naps throughout the day
- Avoiding substances like alcohol and nicotine
- Getting regular exercise
You Don’t Have To Manage Narcolepsy Alone
Narcolepsy can feel overwhelming and isolating, but our team at Sacramento Ear, Nose & Throat can help you navigate living with this condition. With medication and lifestyle changes, you’ll be able to reduce the impact your symptoms have on your life and get back to participating in the activities that mean the most to you. We’ll be by your side as you begin your customized treatment plan.