Narcolepsy is a disease of the nervous system, which is accompanied by an unstable phase of fast sleep.
In addition, people suffering from this disease, note increased drowsiness and complain about involuntary "attacks" of sleep.
Theories, facts and fiction
For many centuries the causes of narcolepsy remained a mystery to everyone. Various versions were voiced, for example, a German doctor even expressed a theory that this disease developed in adolescents due to excessive masturbation. At one time narcolepsy was considered a mental disorder, then it was one of the signs of schizophrenia.
With the development of medicine, scientists began to "dig" deeper and put forward the hypothesis that the disease develops due to unstable neurochemical cerebral balance.
However, the real cause of the disease could be determined only at the end of the 20th century. According to official conclusions, the disease develops after disorders in the body system responsible for the phase of fast sleep. As
It was he who once established that the human brain is a very complex structure in which there are deep "mechanisms" responsible for sleep. The main elements of the brain are the neurons, which transmit various impulses and biologically active substances from one place to another.
When a person's nervous system is in active working condition, he is awake and engaged in some kind of activity. However, if he is overtired or has been in an excited state for a long time, he immediately feels sleep attacks and wants to relax .
In the case when there are any disruptions in the nervous system, sleep can occur in a person involuntarily at any time of the day. Basically, these disorders are associated with a lack of orexin A and orexin B. These neurotransmitters are responsible for the state of wakefulness and a smooth transition to sleep.
The main causes of narcolepsy development:
- of the brain infection;
- severe head and brain injuries;
- systematic excessive fatigue;
- malfunction of the immune system;
- hormonal failures;
- genetic predisposition to this type of disease;
- constant emotional stress;
- is a systematic underdelivery;
- mental trauma;
- diabetes mellitus;
- sometimes the first signs of the disease are noted during pregnancy.
It should be noted that in most cases, the exact cause of this disease in a particular person can be unrealistic to establish. Very often this can lead to a whole range of problems.
What will indicate the disease?
Doctors note two main symptoms that are more likely to indicate that a person has narcolepsy:
- Involuntary falling asleep on the go .The patient can fall asleep in any position absolutely for any occupation. Usually is promoted by long monotonous work. However, there are cases when narcolepsy can fall asleep during walking, watching TV or doing various household chores. In most cases, such a dream lasts several minutes, but with severe forms of the disease, it can last up to several hours.
- Involuntary relaxation of all body muscles .Usually it occurs at moments when a person experiences violent emotional excitement: laughter, anxiety, fear, rage, etc. However, doctors note that this sign does not form immediately, but manifests itself gradually with the development of the disease.
In addition to these two main symptoms, several other possible signs can be identified:
- stormy dreams with elements of hallucinations , which occur in the process of falling asleep or vice versa;
- after a long and sound sleep, person a few minutes after awakening can not move any part of his body ( this phenomenon is called "sleep paralysis");
- person can not live without a mandatory daytime sleep .
At the same time, in most patients narcolepsy chronic chronic sleep, even if they sleep more than the norm. This is due to the fact that they do not have a phase of deep sleep, so a person, although in a dream, but can not restore all of his body's strength.
Normally, a violation never manifests itself unexpectedly, but develops over several years. Therefore, if these symptoms appear, you need to undergo a medical examination. However, it must be borne in mind that these signs can also refer to other similar diseases.
Testing and Diagnosis
A correctly diagnosed diagnosis is always necessary for the treatment of any disease. Narcolepsy in this case is no exception.
In addition, this disease is associated with disruption of the brain and nervous system, which represents an even greater responsibility for the attending physician.
Before the specialist determines that the patient is suffering from narcolepsy, long and complex studies will be necessary.
These include polysomnography and the MSLT test. The first procedure is performed in a special laboratory where the patient will have to spend one or more nights. Before going to sleep, special electrodes are attached to his head, which read and record the necessary indications during sleep.
During the MSLT test, the doctor also records a pattern of sleep, which then compares to the normal schedule and shows various violations.
What is narcolepsy or when sleep attacks - video BBC:
How to fix the situation?
Narcolepsy is a serious disease that can cause significant inconveniences to a person, up to the most serious consequences, on this basis, the treatment of this disorder causes a lot of difficulties.
In addition, it should be noted that at the moment there is no means or method that could completely relieve the patient of this disease.
However, there are two groups of drugs that can minimize symptoms, and significantly improve a patient's life.
At the moment, the following can be "drowned out" narcolepsy:
- preparations intended for stimulation of the brain;
- drugs that activate the brain area responsible for sleep.
However, it should be noted that these drugs can have only a symptomatic effect, but with their help the patient will be able to significantly improve the quality of his life.
In addition, the person himself must adjust his life rhythm, normalize sleep and wakefulness, minimize various stressful situations and experiences, and also, necessarily allocate a few hours to daytime sleep.
The story of a well-known patient
More recently, historians have found out that narcolepsy suffered the famous artist Leonardo da Vinci. According to their conclusions, even in his childhood had an increased drowsiness, which developed after 3 years spent in the dungeon.
However, the artist has learned not only to not pay attention to it, but also to derive a certain benefit for themselves.
He made a special rocking chair, in which he slept during seizures. And after waking up, immediately took a paper and a pencil and sketched his dreams.
During seizures of narcolepsy, the feeling of sleep captures only the cerebral cortex and does not reach the rest of the brain. Therefore, a person, as it were, sleeps, but complete immobility does not occur.
For example, if an attack occurred while walking, then it will continue to go further in an unconscious state. And when you wake up, you may not even realize that he "disconnected" for several minutes.
In contrast, some patients have completely opposite symptoms. The person is in a conscious state, but his muscles seem to atrophy and cease to obey him.
If an attack occurs while walking, the patient may simply fall. At the same time, he will understand everything, but he will not be able to do anything with his body for several minutes.
Currently, scientists are trying their best to find an effective remedy for narcolepsy. More recently, American doctors have invented a new drug that almost completely eliminates this disease and successfully tested it on animals. Therefore, such patients should not despair.