Narcolepsy and Idiopathic Hypersomnia

WHAT IS IT?

Narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia are neurological disorders that disrupt sleep-wake cycles. The symptoms of narcolepsy include extreme daytime sleepiness, abnormal REM (rapid eye movement) sleep patterns during the day, cataplexy (sudden muscle weakness), hypnagogic hallucinations (dream-like images before falling asleep), and disturbed nighttime sleep. Idiopathic hypersomnia is a chronic condition defined by excessive daytime drowsiness or prolonged nighttime sleep episodes lasting more than 12 consecutive hours. It can be difficult to diagnose these conditions because they share many common features with other medical problems, including depression, anxiety, seizures, strokes, brain tumors and other central nervous system problems.


CAUSES

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable periods of sleep. This may lead to drowsiness during the day and sleep problems at night. Symptoms include cataplexy, which is when strong emotions cause the muscles to freeze up, or tachycardia, where rapid thoughts and speech are followed by extreme exhaustion. The exact causes of narcolepsy are unknown, but there have been many theories put forward over the years, such as genetics, immune system problems or brain chemicals being out of balance. Idiopathic hypersomnia, also known as IH, has similar symptoms, including excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), with no other medical explanation for this need for more sleep than usual at night time.

DIAGNOSIS

Narcolepsy and Idiopathic Hypersomnia are two conditions that can be difficult to understand. The average person may even find them hard to pronounce, which is understandable considering the rarity of these sleeping disorders. However, they both have the same neurological cause - an irregular sleep-wake cycle due to a deficiency in hypocretin (a neuropeptide). These two conditions also share other symptoms, such as excessive daytime sleepiness and disrupted nighttime sleep patterns. They are often misdiagnosed by physicians who don't take the time to understand their similarities or differences. Given proper diagnosis and treatment, these disorders can be managed for many years.


TREATMENT

Narcolepsy and Idiopathic hypersomnia are two sleep disorders that share similar characteristics. They both cause excessive daytime sleepiness, which can lead to other problems such as difficulty paying attention, impaired memory, or mood swings. The treatment of these disorders is determined by the patient's symptoms and medical history. There are many ways to diagnose Narcolepsy and Idiopathic Hypersomnia, including a clinical interview with the doctor; an overnight polysomnography test; or a Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT). In order to treat these conditions, there are medications available through prescription from doctors who specialize in treating sleep disorders.



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