Narcolepsy is a condition that causes sufferers to lose control of sleeping and waking functions. If you believe that you or someone you love suffers from this sleep disorder, it is important to seek medical care at a sleep center, as the condition can be dangerous. Take a look at the information below to learn about the causes and symptoms of narcolepsy.
Causes of Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder, meaning that it involves the nervous system. The precise cause of narcolepsy is unknown, but researchers have identified genes that are associated with the condition. While a small percentage of narcolepsy cases appear to run in families, the condition generally appears sporadically. The genes that seem to be connected to narcolepsy control the production of chemicals that regulate sleep and wakefulness. A deficiency of a certain chemical called hypocretin may contribute to narcolepsy. Disturbances in the rapid eye movement (REM) cycle of sleep may also cause the symptoms of narcolepsy.
Symptoms of Narcolepsy
The symptoms of narcolepsy may manifest at any age. One of the most common symptoms of narcolepsy is excessive daytime sleepiness, or EDS. EDS may contribute to concentration difficulties, mental cloudiness, exhaustion, and memory problems. It is also possible for individuals with narcolepsy to experience vivid hallucinations. Cataplexy, or a sudden decrease in muscle tone that causes weakness and loss of control, is another symptom of narcolepsy. Some individuals with narcolepsy also experience sleep paralysis. With this symptom, a person is temporarily unable to move when falling asleep or waking up.
Narcolepsy can make it difficult to safely complete everyday tasks, including driving, operating machinery, and cooking. If you believe that you are suffering from narcolepsy, schedule an appointment with Sleep Services of Maryland. Our physicians can evaluate the problem, provide a diagnosis, and offer effective treatment options. Visit our website or call our Rockville office at (240) 912-4683 to find out more.