Narcolepsy Treatment Online

Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that leads to uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy symptoms can vary, but patients typically experience:

  • Loss of muscle control
  • Muscle weakness
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • And more.

Diagnosing and Treating Narcolepsy Online

Narcolepsy causes someone to feel excessive daytime sleepiness. People with narcolepsy may experience uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep, even while driving, walking, or talking. Other symptoms associated with narcolepsy include loss of muscle tone, also known as cataplexy, and muscle weakness. Typically, people with narcolepsy will fall into the deepest sleep cycle, rapid eye movement (REM), almost immediately when they first fall asleep. They will also fall immediately into REM sleep during the day.

People with narcolepsy have low levels of hypocretin, which is a neurochemical that helps regulate wakefulness and REM sleep. There has also been research that suggests a correlation between exposure to the H1N1 virus and narcolepsy.

Narcolepsy is a dangerous condition because it can put one in physical harm. Often time’s people with narcolepsy cannot do everyday tasks on their own because they are at risk of falling asleep. Narcolepsy may lead to:

  • Increased risk of car accidents
  • Obesity
  • Low sex drive or impotence

During a video consult on Amwell your doctor will ask you a series of targeted questions to determine if your symptoms point to narcolepsy. Then your provider will proceed to determine the best treatment plan for you. Your provider may recommend in-person examination by a specialist if needed. Your treatment plan is based on the duration and severity of your symptoms and your medical history.

Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor will go over the risks and benefits of the various treatment plans. Treatment for narcolepsy is different depending on the severity.

Options for treatment of narcolepsy may include:

  • Stimulants
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Sodium oxybate (Xyrem)
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Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers.

See below for answers to some of our most common questions. You can also call us anytime 24 hours a day at 1‑844‑SEE‑DOCS for questions about our services or to speak to a doctor about your symptoms or conditions.

  • What are the sleep stages for people with narcolepsy?

    People with narcolepsy do not necessarily experience sleep stages the way someone without narcolepsy does. While someone without the condition will first enter non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and eventually fall into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, someone with narcolepsy falls immediately into REM sleep.

  • What is the difference between narcolepsy and insomnia?

    While both narcolepsy and insomnia are sleep disorders that cause daytime tiredness, narcolepsy occurs when someone cannot control when they fall asleep and insomnia occurs when someone has trouble falling (and staying) asleep. People with narcolepsy fall into the deepest sleep cycle almost immediately, called REM sleep, while people with insomnia struggle to fall asleep and will feel like they didn’t get enough sleep upon waking up.

  • Are there any home remedies for people with narcolepsy to try before bed?

    People with narcolepsy should try to stick to the same routine every night, including going to bed at the same time, even on weekends. Other bedtime techniques to try include:

    • Dimming lights and setting the air to a comfortable temperature
    • Avoiding gadgets like smartphones
    • Drinking non-caffeinated tea
    • Sleeping on your side
  • When does narcolepsy cause cataplexy?

    There are two main types of narcolepsy - narcolepsy with cataplexy and narcolepsy without cataplexy. You may ask, what is cataplexy? Cataplexy is a sudden and uncontrollable muscle weakness or paralysis that is often triggered by a strong emotion, such as excitement or laughter.

    People who experience cataplexy as one of their narcolepsy symptoms often times have low levels of hypocretin, while those who do not experience cataplexy symptoms have normal levels of hypocretin. Hypocretin, also known as orexin, is a brain chemical that regulates arousal, wakefulness and apptetite.

    Some reasons that people with narcolepsy may be producing low levels of hypocretin include:

    • Autoimmune disorders that cause a loss of the brain cells that produce hypocretin
    • Brain injuries that specifically impact the section of the brain that controls wakefulness and REM sleep
    • Family history of narcolepsy with cataplexy
  • What is the difference between narcolepsy and sleep apnea?

    Sleep apnea and narcolepsy are very different conditions. The only similarity is that they are chronic sleep disorders. While narcolepsy affects how well someone can control their sleep patterns, sleep apnea occurs when there are repeated pauses in breathing during sleep.

  • Is narcolepsy hereditary?

    Narcolepsy can be inherited, but for the most part, this condition is not hereditary. A majority of cases of narcolepsy are sporadic, which means the condition will develop in someone with no family history of narcolepsy.

    Research shows that when narcolepsy is inherited, it’s more common for someone to inherit narcolepsy with cataplexy, which is a specific type of the condition that occurs when people produce low levels of a brain chemical called hypocretin.

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