Narcolepsy is a disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness that usually leads to sudden and intense sleep attacks. The patient is unable to control and which conditions his entire life.
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that can manifest itself in various ways, but primarily through excessive sleepiness during the day. Which can lead to what is known as sleep attacks, times when the desire to sleep is irrepressible patient, and that can last a few minutes or extend to more than an hour. Its fundamental cause has been described in recent years and is due to a hypocretin deficiency, which is a neurotransmitter substance.
It is a chronic neurological disease characterized by the brain’s inability to regulate sleep and wake cycles. In other words, in narcolepsy, the sleep phases are poorly regulated, especially the REM phase,
The disease usually begins around 15 or 20 to 30-36 years, but can appear at any age (even in children), although up to 50% occur in adolescence and 5% even before puberty.
How Narcolepsy Affects Those Who Suffer From It During Their Life
Narcolepsy lasts a lifetime with slight variation. The first manifestation is usually hypersomnia (excess sleep) with a daytime sleep crisis. Then, within a period of one or two years, cataplexy or cataplexy (involuntary loss of muscle control in the face of strong emotions such as crying or laughter).
Up to 20 years can pass from the first symptoms to the full development of the syndrome; over the years, the quality of the patient’s nighttime sleep can be altered and associated with other sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea. The rest of the symptoms that accompany this disease are hallucinations and the interruption of night sleep.
The incidence of narcolepsy in Western countries is estimated to be between 20 and 60 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Although narcolepsy has no cure, there are very effective treatments for its approach. On the contrary, as pointed out by the SEN, uncontrolled narcolepsy leads to attention, memory, and language problems in childhood that influence school performance; in adults, lower performance, slow reaction times, memory problems, which also influence the workplace. “But it also affects the family and social environment.
Causes of narcolepsy
The hypothalamus is a gland in the brain responsible, among other things, for regulating sleep and wakefulness. It consists of two areas linked to this end, one responsible for producing histamine and another responsible for producing a hypocretin neurotransmitter. For a few years, the ultimate reason or cause of narcolepsy has been firmly established. It seems that in the hypothalamus, there is a loss of these neurons responsible for producing hypocretin, which would be closely related to the regulation of sleep/wake cycles.
The narcoleptic syndrome is believed to be associated with a combination of genetic predisposition with environmental factors since the relationship between the disease and HLA-DR2 has been seen, thus influencing family history. However, as indicated by the Spanish Society of Neurology, only in less than 5% of cases have a family link been found or associated with some other type of brain disorder.
It is also postulated that an autoimmune disorder or mechanism is responsible for explaining the destruction of hypocretinergic neurons or attacking the receptors in which this neurotransmitter would function.
What has been proven is that certain environmental factors such as stress, infections, hormonal changes, emotional trauma, problems in the functioning of the immune system can trigger or aggravate narcolepsy through the abnormal activation of lymphocyte cells that would attack either the hypocretin-producing cells or their receptors.