Narcolepsy is a chronic neurologic disorder that affects many more Americans than originally thought. The symptoms are often delibating and affect the physical, mental and social health of individuals.
Dr. Neil Feldman is interested in making sure that primary care physicians are making an accurate diagnosis of narcolepsy. Many of the classic symptoms of this disease go undiagnosed and many symptoms are mistaken for other diseases.
Symptoms of narcolepsy are excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy(a decrease in muscle tone), sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations, and automatic behaviors. According to Dr. Feldman, the most common symptom is daytime sleepiness. The most important symptom to a narcolepsy diagnosis would be cataplexy.
Diagnosis of narcolepsy can be difficult, as symptoms often can be related to other diseases such as, obstructive sleep apnea, upper-airway resistance syndrome, idiopathic central nervous system hypersomnia and periodic limb movement disorder.
An accurate diagnosis can be made with two specific sleep studies and are recommended for a person with suspected narcolepsy. The first test is a polysomnography. This test records normal and abnormal activity during an entire night. The multiple sleep latency test is the primary test used to diagnosis narcolepsy. This measures levels of hyper somnolence and sleep onset of REM. Both of which a person with narcolepsy exhibits and are otherwise uncommon. This test is preformed during normal waking hours and provides the patient with four or five 20 minute nap periods. A person with narcolepsy will fall asleep within 5 minutes and will experience REM sleep during at least two of the nap periods.
While reading this article, I came to the conclusion that I may have symptoms of this disease. Daytime sleepiness and quick onset of sleep are symptoms mentioned in this article. However, these may also by symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. It is very easy to see how and why...