Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that interferes with one’s ability to stay awake, especially during the day. Two of the major symptoms of narcolepsy are excessive daytime sleepiness and fragmented night sleep. The later poses an issue with proper sleeping at night. Although individuals with narcolepsy often experience episodes of sleep attacks, it is less likely that they sleep more than a normal human being. This is because they only get small portions of refreshing sleep and at night, they hardly sleep well enough. There are two major types of narcolepsy; type 1 narcolepsy, which includes catalepsy and type 2 narcolepsy, without cataplexy.

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Is There A Surgery For Narcolepsy?

There is no surgical procedure to treat narcolepsy. The main ways of treating narcolepsy are aimed at managing symptoms. Regardless, there are possible clinical trials which can be tried out in discovering news ways to manage narcolepsy. There has been a study conducted on anesthetic management of narcolepsy patients during surgery. The study mainly focused on the response to anesthetics during the perioperative stage. In patients with autonomic dysregulation or worsening narcolepsy patients, there were complications reported intra/postoperatively. Narcolepsy patients undergoing neurosurgery involving the hypothalamus, third or fourth ventricles were found to develop new-onset narcolepsy. In conclusion, it was discovered that there is a lack of prospective clinical trials in patients with narcolepsy. Therefore, for surgery involving the hypothalamus or third and fourth ventricles, there should be postoperative monitoring for symptoms of narcolepsy. As for the future, there is need for a better definition of perioperative risks with anesthesia on patients with narcolepsy. (2)

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Treatments For Narcolepsy

For patients diagnosed with narcolepsy, the first course of treatment is usually diagnosing the type of narcolepsy a patient has. From there, a treatment decision is made based on the agenda, which can either be to promote alertness and reduce excessive daytime sleepiness or manage the symptoms the patient is exhibiting. Commonly used medication to treat narcolepsy include stimulating medication e.g. modafinil (Provigil), armodafinil (Nuvigil), methylphenidate (Ritalin), and sodium oxybate (Xyrem), tricyclic antidepressants such as protriptyline (Vivactil), and clomipramine (Anafranil), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as fluoxetine (Prozac), and sertraline (Zoloft). (1)

Lifestyle modification is also necessary for patients with narcolepsy. Some of the best ways to change your life to accommodate your condition include; avoiding use of alcohol and other drugs which might not agar well with medication prescribed, having a sleep schedule, taking short naps during the day, and also not engaging in harmful activities such as driving when feeling drowsy. Other than that, ensure you eat well, exercise regularly and take regulated amounts caffeine drinks to promote alertness. (1)

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Important Facts About Narcolepsy

Other than being a chronic neurological disorder, narcolepsy is also considered an autoimmune disorder. This is because it can be triggered by an autoimmune response to a viral or bacterial infection in the body. It is also associated with abnormal levels of hypocretin hormone, especially in type 1 narcolepsy, which is believed to be an adverse effect from the autoimmune response. The risk of developing narcolepsy is higher in individuals who have a history of narcoleptics in their family history, to be precise, first-degree relatives.

Narcolepsy is not that rare of a condition as there is a chance of 1 in 2000 individuals having the condition. In addition to that, people of any age can become narcoleptic; however, most cases are of individuals between 10 and 30 years of age. Another important fact to keep in mind is that narcolepsy has no cure. It may make life difficult, but with medication and lifestyle adjustments, you can lead a normal healthy life. Nonetheless, you’ll still experience bouts of daytime sleepiness, but by taking naps, the sleep attacks can be minimized. (2)

Conclusion

There is no surgical procedure for treating narcolepsy. However, through certain clinical trials, surgeries maybe incorporated in a means for further understating the condition and figuring out ways of managing it better. For now, the best ways to manage narcolepsy alongside its symptoms is by taking medication designated for various symptoms and lifestyle modifications to accommodate living with the condition.

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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: June 5, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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