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What Is The Prognosis For Narcolepsy?

The prognosis for narcolepsy depends upon the level up to which the condition is managed. The patients suffering from this disease have excessive daytime sleepiness thus the person is socially isolated. Prognosis is positive for a person who has managed the symptoms of narcolepsy.

What Is The Prognosis For Narcolepsy?

There is no permanent cure narcolepsy and there is no medication that fully revives the daytime alertness in such patients. However, the condition can be managed through a greater extent and excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy can be controlled through proper medications5. The condition remains progressive for a few years after starting of symptoms and later on, the symptoms get stabilized. It is also found that the severity of daytime sleepiness reduced after the age of 60 years.

If the condition remains untreated in children, they undergo a psychologically devastating stage. There is all-round poor performance including studies and extra-curricular activities. There is a social impairment and the child may ridicule from peers6.

The patients suffering from narcolepsy are seen as drug addicts and the employees see them as lazy and lacking in focus. The professional life as well as the personal life of the person takes a toll and the patient may be socially isolated. It is important to discuss the disease with the employer and colleagues in order to have an understanding between you and them. The intimate relationship is also not good and the patient suffers from sexual dysfunction. In patients with managed narcolepsy, the prognosis is quite good and they have improved quality of life.

Complications Of Narcolepsy

Complications Of Narcolepsy

When the patient suffers from uncontrollable sleeping episodes during the day time or has excessive sleepiness in the day despite having a sound sleep at night, chances are high that the person is suffering from narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a progressive condition; however, the progression stops after reaching stabilization. The condition is primarily caused by the destruction of neurons present in the hypothalamus. These neurons secrete hypocretin which is known to have a significant impact on the sleeping cycle. The neurons get damaged through autoimmune disease or infection. Various treatment options are available to manage the condition, as the condition has no permanent cure. If left untreated, narcolepsy may lead to complication and the quality of the patient’s life is significantly reduced. Following are the complications of narcolepsy:

Obesity. If the narcolepsy is not treated well and the symptoms are not managed, the condition may lead to increased weight gain and obesity. Although the exact cause of weight gain is not known it may be due to low metabolism1.

Impact On Professional And Personal Life. Untreated narcolepsy may cause havoc in the patient’s personal and professional life. The person may not be able to emotionally interact with another person because these emotions may act as a trigger for narcolepsy1. These emotions may also lead to cataplexy. Similarly, in professional life, the colleagues and the employer, who generally not understand about the disease, look upon the person as lazy and demotivated.

Depression. Untreated narcolepsy does not allow the person to interact in society because of excessive sleepiness, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and cataplexy. These symptoms cause stress and lead to isolation2. Change in brain function may lead to poor mental health.

Accidents. Narcolepsy, if not managed properly leads to accidents which sometimes may be fatal3. The accidents may occur while driving or while working on heavy machines. In some countries, the driving license may be revoked or not issued if the narcolepsy is not adequately managed.

Effect On Mental Functioning. Poor management of narcolepsy leads to poor focus and concentration4. Many people suffering from narcolepsy have lost their jobs due to poor performance because of insufficient management of narcolepsy.


Narcolepsy can lead to various complications both physical and physiological. The prognosis of the condition depends upon the stage at which condition is diagnosed and on the level of treatment to manage this condition. Properly managed narcolepsy has a favorable outcome and the person has a good quality of life.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 12, 2019

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