Narcolepsy is a disorder that affects the way people feel, sleep and function. It usually appears during adolescence. The condition is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness.
People with narcolepsy are at a higher risk of developing other medical conditions. They also experience increased psychosocial costs. These costs can range from interpersonal issues, to financial stressors. Medications and changes in lifestyle are used to reduce the symptoms and adverse effects of the condition.
Narcolepsy treatment is aimed at increasing wakefulness during the day and preventing cataplexy attacks. Treatment methods include medicines that are taken as daily tablets. Methylphenidate is one medication that is often prescribed for narcolepsy. However, this drug can cause gastrointestinal problems.
In addition to medication, behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy can help patients cope with their symptoms. Support groups are also beneficial. While medications and therapy can provide short-term improvements, they are not effective in managing all symptoms.
Medical care is essential if a person experiences sudden outbursts of drowsiness. A medical emergency such as a heart attack or stroke may be the reason.
Having narcolepsy can also have a negative impact on social interactions. This is particularly true if the condition is not diagnosed. For many, the diagnosis is delayed for years. Therefore, patients have to be evaluated for their overall quality of life.
Keeping a strict bedtime routine can help a patient manage the symptoms of narcolepsy. Taking naps at certain times of the day can also reduce the severity of the daytime sleepiness.