Unusual disease in which a person is unable to control their sleeping and waking, is called «narcolepsy». It came from the Greek words narkē, denoting stupor, and lēpsis sleep.

Is a neurological disorder also called a paroxysm of irresistible sleepiness or disease, Gelineau. This French neurologist first described this disease in the late seventies of the 19th century. For several years Jean Baptiste Edouard watched the vintner 38 years old, who went to the doctor with their problem.

Male to two hundred times during the day could sleep for food, sitting in a theater chair at the play, with the conversation – start talking. When strong emotions and the surge of emotion his drowsiness was accompanied by loss of muscle tone, and he was falling. The consciousness, however, he remained quite clear. Such a case Gelineau called cataplexy.

Doctor Samuel Brock (USA) in 1928 found another form of narcolepsy, called sleep paralysis. His patient, a twenty-two-year-old man, suffered bouts of sleepiness and catalepsy, but they were followed by another, and a temporary inability to move or speak. In this state, he had very plausible hallucinations, unusual for him at all.

Narcolepsy - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

Special Causes of illness

Narcolepsy is a rare disease (from 2 thousand strikes 1 person). It develops mainly in the 20-50-year-old men but may appear in childhood. Despite the low prevalence, this disease is very dangerous because the individual may suddenly fall asleep at any time and anywhere by performing some action. Such an attack is not subject to control, therefore, it is a hindrance to normal activities – it is impossible properly to study, work, do daily chores, drive a car. All of this negatively affects personal and social life. Children with this disease are stunted.

Feelings sufferers of narcolepsy are similar to those that people experience, not slept for two days, and it reduces the quality of life.

Researchers can't explain the exact cause of the syndrome of sleepiness, as it is not sufficiently studied because of its uniqueness. It appears, however, that psychological and psychiatric problems are not to blame here.

Now call these factors of disease progression:

  • heredity;
  • lack specific genes of hypocretin (of orexins)– neurotransmitters that transfer signals for sleep and awakening in the brain;
  • disorders of the immune system;
  • fatigue;
  • severe infections;
  • injuries to the skull;
  • viral diseases;
  • malfunctions of the endocrine glands, including the pituitary gland.

Sleepy by day, at night narcolepsy often have trouble falling asleep or constantly Wake up. It is associated with abnormalities of the brain regions governing basic stages of sleep: rapid phase occurs earlier than normal, and the deep phase is missing altogether.

Symptoms of paroxysm an irresistible sleepiness

Symptoms of the disease first appear in adolescents or young people or bright or worsen gradually, as they grow up:

  1. Strong desire to sleep during the day, despite an ample amount of sleep at night. Such irresistible drowsiness interferes with normal activity since it is accompanied by lethargy, hazy thinking, apathy, difficulty concentrating. He has no moods, he is constantly irritated, can't remember important information, losing motivation. At any time and under any circumstances the patient may sleep, and the attacks come several times a day. Wake him up easily and after waking up it is just for a while, refreshed.
  2. Disruption of the normal sleep at night - frequent awakenings or insomnia.
  3. Cataplexy – when strong emotions (surprise, laughter, joy, rage, etc.) there is a sudden loss of muscle tone. People can fall because of weakness in the legs, numb hands, head«falls». Such an attack may last a moment or last for half an hour.
  4. When falling asleep or awakening having a terrible, very believable hallucinations, visual or in the form of sensations, sounds. They frighten and even threaten.
  5. Sleep Paralysis - waking up, the patient can not move and to say something, but the idea is quite adequate.
  6. Automaticity– executing action«on autopilot». People can fall asleep, but continue what you were doing while awake without realizing it. It's dangerous because sleep can overtake you in the process of driving a vehicle, cooking, etc.

Suffering from narcolepsy also complain of memory loss, double vision, headache.

If the above symptoms should consult a specialist for diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Unfortunately, completely getting rid of this neurological disorder is impossible, but to adjust and thereby improve the quality of life is possible.

Diagnostic Features

To make an accurate diagnosis «narcolepsy» can only neurologist of the sleep, that is, a doctor specializing in sleep disorders. Once it can do not succeed, because in this region, and a lot of violations on different occasions. Some doctors may not even remember the existence of such disease, as the paroxysm irresistible sleepiness, so it is rare.

First of all, the specialist will need to assess the general condition of the patient, which gives the possibility to exclude other diseases with similar symptoms. To do this, the doctor will examine the medical history and conduct comprehensive research in somnological laboratories.

There are two tests to determine what pathology has got the patient

  1. Polysomnography. To the skin in an isolated room of a man using a jelly-like substance cover small electrodes. They allow you to register as a result of brain waves, the rhythm of the heartbeat, eye movements, muscle activity.
  2. MSLT test is done after the previous one but on the next day. On the body of the patient is also fastened electrodes and allowed to sleep for 20 minutes. Such attempts several taken in compliance with the interval from 2 to 3 hours.

The Results of these studies will provide data about the disease and to determine whether to assert the existence of narcolepsy or the patient is struck by another disease associated with sleep disorders and similar symptoms.

In addition to the above procedures, the necessary and the EEG of the brain.

Symptomatic treatment

Foremost, patients with narcolepsy suggest to live in a certain lifestyle:

  • abandon heavy meals, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco;
  • to respect the dream – day to reduce, increase night, go to bed and get up at the same time;
  • exercise;
  • plan the schedule of your actions so that during the execution of certain actions (e.g., driving) be especially vigilant, careful. Better to close during this period, someone was.

To control sleep disturbances, drowsiness, avoid hallucinations, the doctor will prescribe certain drugs – stimulants, antidepressants, other special medications (Neurontin, Lyrica) etc. Its recommendations should be strictly adhered to and if any problem or changes in status immediately to report.

Not so long ago there was good news. Based on the statements of scientists that one of the causes of narcolepsy is a lack of orexin in the brain (discussed above), it has developed a nasal spray with it. While the drug is tested only on monkeys, but after application, the animals were cheerful even when the lack of sleep. Development interested in the military, but there is hope that it comes up to patients!

Shown, and behavioral therapy. Family members suffering from narcolepsy, as well as colleagues and superiors, need to know about his illness – the first should inform the attending physician and the rest of the patient. This makes it possible to avoid mass confusion – people may understand the patient's behavior not to think that he deliberately shirk from work, lazy, depressed, suffering from a mental disorder.

Native support of a relative of a narcoleptic, and will help to cope with the symptoms of the disease. As for work, the employer, if it is possible to create certain conditions if you are interested in this employee. If not, then the patient will have to find another source of income where his problem will not prevent to fulfill official duties.

Parents of a child with this disease should warn about it, teachers. Teachers will take measures that the student was not ridiculed, did not suffer the educational process, etc. Diagnosis will not impede school readiness and education.

What you need to keep in mind ?

Narcolepsy, unfortunately, accompanies the person all his life, its symptoms of stabilization, or becomes heavier. Only through treatment and compliance with the recommendations of sleep can make seizures less frequent and weaker, and lead a very normal socially active life.

And more... Researchers recently found that this disease suffered from the great Leonardo da Vinci. It struck him after a three-year stay in the basement of the Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) of Venice. Thinker, engineer, artist, ahead of his time, managed the disease to turn to his advantage. He built a wheelchair and it was always next to him so the attacks of sleep haven't caught him by surprise. Leonardo rarely parted with a pencil and paper, so immediately after waking up, he painted what he dreamed. So narcolepsy has contributed to the work of the genius.

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