Narcolepsy is caused due to a variety of factors. Prevention of narcolepsy is very difficult. However, there are some ways through which a person may reduce the risk of narcolepsy.

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Is There Any Way To Prevent Narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a disorder related to the nervous system. The neurons of hypothalamus get damaged resulting in this condition. The exact cause of the disease remains unknown. When the detailed pathophysiology of a disease and the exact cause is not known, prevention is quite difficult and, in some cases, impossible. Similarly, in the case of narcolepsy, prevention is too difficult. Initial symptoms of the disease overlap with the symptoms of tiredness, leaving it undiagnosed at an early stage. There are no guidelines available for the prevention of narcolepsy. Various risk factors have been identified and various causes are elucidated for the development of narcolepsy. The best preventive measure for narcolepsy is to reduce the occurrence of risk factors. Following are the various risk factors associated with narcolepsy:

Age. Although narcolepsy can occur at any age majority of people develop narcolepsy in the age between 10 to 25 years1. Thus, patients of this age group are at higher risk.

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Genetics. Genetic mutation is one or more genes may cause narcolepsy. Although the exact cause of this mutation is not known research indicates that these genes are associated with the immune system. The immune system attacks the neurons of the hypothalamus that produces hypocretin. Hypocretin is responsible for maintaining the sleep-wake cycle. The gene that is strongly associated with narcolepsy is HLADQB1. This gene manages the action of the immune system through human antigen leukocyte complex. In the presence of gene mutation, a variant gene HLADQB1*06:02 is present2. This gene changes the perception of immune cells and they began to attack the neurons of the hypothalamus.

Infection. Infection plays a major role in the development of narcolepsy3. Apart from the gene mutation, infection is also believed to initiate the attack of the immune system on neurons leading to narcolepsy. The patients who are increased risk of frequent infection are at higher risk of developing narcolepsy. A person should boost his immune system through appropriate diet.

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Following are the measures that can reduce the occurrence of narcolepsy:

Avoid Influenza Vaccines. Unless essentially recommended by the doctor, you should avoid the influenza vaccine. In case you have the vaccination, then try to clear it from the body as fast as possible by consulting your doctor. In many instances, it has been found that the influenza vaccine leads to the development of narcolepsy. This is due to the presence of protein on the viral surface. This protein triggers the immune system and the triggered immune cells to kill the hypothalamus neurons3. The level of hypocretin gets reduces in cerebrospinal fluid. These vaccines are also known to cause other health complications.

Avoid brain injuries. Brain injuries are one of the common causes of narcolepsy. Brain injury may damage the hypothalamus and reducing the concentration of hypocretin. The person who is at risk for developing narcolepsy should avoid extreme activities3.

Lifestyle Changes For Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy cannot be cured but the symptoms can be managed by medications. Apart from medications, the condition can also be managed through lifestyle changes. Following are some lifestyle changes to alleviate or prevent the symptoms:

  • Exercise. The patient should incorporate proper exercise in daily routine. Exercise improves strength and enhances metabolism4.
  • Avoid Heavy Meals At Night. Large heavy meals at night may make sleeping difficult5. Similarly eating just before going to bed interferes with your sleep.
  • Have Proper Sleep Schedule. The patient should schedule sleep and activities to have a balance and regularity in life4.
  • Avoid Exposure To Emotional Triggers. Exposure to emotional triggers increases the risk of cataplexy. The patient should learn to manage the emotional triggers3.

Conclusion

People of young age, having a family history of narcolepsy and suffering from recurring and frequent infections are at increased risk of developing narcolepsy. Narcolepsy can be prevented by avoiding certain influenza vaccine and refrain from doing dangerous activities.

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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: June 4, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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