Narcolepsy is a disorder of the nervous system. It results in frequent involuntary, episodes of sleep during the day. Sleep attacks can occur while you drive, talk, or work.
The cause is unknown. It is thought to have a genetic link. There is increasing evidence that it may be an autoimmune disorder. In this type of disorder, the body’s own immune system attacks a part of the brain.
Symptoms usually start during the teenage years. Onset may range from 5-50 years old. Symptoms may worsen with aging. They may improve in women after menopause.
Brainstem—Area of Brain Related to Alertness
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The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If narcolepsy is suspected, you may be referred to a specialist in sleep disorders.
Tests may include:
Treatment may include:
Other treatment options include:
There are no guidelines to prevent narcolepsy. But, you can try to prevent symptoms by:
National Sleep Foundation
Better Sleep Council of Canada
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Last reviewed June 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2013