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Human Anatomy

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Above is a depiction of the neuropeptide Orexin-A. People with narcolepsy often have a reduced number of neurons that produce this protein. People may also have a reduced amount of hypocretin. What causes the brain to produce less of these proteins are unclear. The real exact cause of the disorder is unknown.


Signs and Tests A sleep study ( above right) and a multiple sleep Latency Test ( above left) are tests uses to rule out conditions similar to Narcolepsy. Other tests such as an ECG (measures the heart's electrical activity)or EEG (measures the brain's electrical activity)are used. Commonly a genetic test to look for narcolepsy gene can be found and easily diagnosed.

Symptoms-Periods of extreme drowsiness during the day and a strong urge to sleep, often followed by a short nap or (sleep attack). These periods last for about 15 minutes each. They may happen after eating, while driving, or talking to someone. Strong emotions, such as laughter or anger also are big triggers to an attack. -Dream-like hallucinations between sleep and wakefulness. They involve seeing or hearing, and possibly other senses.-Sleep paralysis. This is when the body cannot move as one starts fall asleep or after waking.-Cataplexy. This is a sudden loss of muscle tone while awake that makes you unable to move. Most attacks last for less than 30 seconds and can be missed.Your head will suddenly fall forward, your jaw will become slack, and your knees will buckle.In severe cases, a person may fall and stay paralyzed for as long as several minutes.

Daytime sleep disorder; Cataplexy

Light signals travel to a tiny cluster of nerves in the hypothalamus. The approach of dusk each day prompts the SCN to signal the nearby pineal gland to produce the hormone melatonin. Melatonin also appears to trigger the need to sleep.

prognosisNarcolepsy is a lifelong chronic condition. It could be dangerous if episodes occur during activities like difficulty functioning at work, driving or social activities. Another problem may bethe side effects of medications used to treat the disorder.

Usually between ages 15-30

There is no known cure. Eating light or vegetarian meals during the day and avoiding heavy meals, also planning naps to control daytime sleep help and reduce sudden sleep attacks. You may need to take prescription medications like stimulant drug armodafinil to stay awake. Antidepressant medications can help reduce episodes of cataplexy, sleep paralysis, and hallucinations. Antidepressants include venlafaxine, fluoxetine, paroxetine, or citalopram


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