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Narcolepsy Signs and Symptoms

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that is sometimes classified as an autoimmune disorder, as it is theorized that an immune reaction may cause the loss of nerve cells in the brain.  Narcolepsy causes excessive daytime sleepiness in 100 percent of all patients.  Narcolepsy is thought to affect about 1 in 2,000 people in the U.S., and is usually diagnosed equally in both sexes.  It usually begins in the teenage years or young adulthood.  We have put together a list of common signs and symptoms of narcolepsy below.

Also, we have information on diagnosis, helpful books and valuable resources for patients.

The Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Narcolepsy include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Mental cloudiness
  • Depression
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory lapses
  • Involuntary sleep episodes lasting a few seconds
  • Automatic behavior during involuntary sleep episodes
  • Cataplexy – a sudden loss of muscle control that occurs during laughter, fear, anger or stress
  • Loss of muscle tone during catapletic episodes
  • Hallucinations when falling asleep or waking up
  • Sleep paralysis while waking or falling asleep
  • Frequent awakenings during nighttime sleep

Diagnosis of Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a fairly common neurological disorder, yet it is widely undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.  Narcolepsy is often not definitively diagnosed until several years after the first symptoms appear.  This is due to the fact that the public is not very aware of this disorder, and neither are general health care practitioners.  Also, many people fail to recognize that they are experiencing symptoms of a neurological disorder, and hence fail to seek help.

A diagnosis of narcolepsy requires a special battery of tests that is performed in a sleep disorder clinic.  Two of the most definitive tests to confirm a diagnosis of narcolepsy are a polysomnogram (PSG) and a multiple sleep latency test (MSLT).

Books For People With Signs and Symptoms of Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy: A Funny Disorder That’s No Laughing Matter
Marguerite J. Utley
The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Narcolepsy
James N. Parker

Narcolepsy Medical Guide
Qontro Medical Guides
Psychosocial Aspects of Narcolepsy
Meeta Goswami

Narcolepsy Resources

General Patient Resources

  • Help Guide . org

Learn about narcolepsy symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment; stresses dangerous effects of narcolepsy and importance of lifestyle changes.

  • About . com

In-depth report about narcolepsy.

  • Narcolepsy Network

Narcolepsy Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to individuals with narcolepsy and related sleep disorders.

  • Sleepnet . com

Since 1995 – Everything you wanted to know about narcolepsy but were too sleepy to ask

  • Talk About Sleep . com

Sleep disorder community providing authoritative sleep information and live sleep disorder support: news, chat rooms, message boards, and articles.

  • MD Junction

A community of patients, family members and friends dealing with narcolepsy, together.

Medical Resources

  • Mayo Clinic

Comprehensive overview covers, treatment symptoms, causes of overwhelming daytime sleepiness.

  • Web MD

Comprehensive sleep disorders information site.

  • MedicineNet . com

Learn about narcolepsy symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment; stresses dangerous effects of narcolepsy and importance of lifestyle changes.