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People who suffer from narcolepsy have been considered many things throughout the centuries, from the very old and scary cursed or possessed, to the very modern and unflattering lazy. The truth, just like anything else, is a little bit more complicated than myths or lack of motivation. In all actuality, narcolepsy is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. While it has many symptoms, the main one is excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), present in all of the diagnosed narcolepsy patients without exceptions. However, the sleepiness is really not the most scary narcolepsy symptom out there. Unfortunately, the rather long list contains the following: cataplexy (loss of muscle tone), hypnagogic hallucinations (distorted perceptions), sleep paralysis (the inability to move or talk) and sleepwalking. Fortunately, these rather frightening symptoms of narcolepsy are not all present in the same patient, at the same time. While everyone is affected by narcolepsy equally, be them male or female, rich or poor and of any race, the first symptoms actually develop very early on, in the patients' teenage years. The first one to appear is excessive daytime sleepiness and it is usually chalked up to teenagers being teenagers and not wanting to get up on time to go to school. The next bout of symptoms, a bit more telling than the sleepiness, can show up years after the first one and help identify the illness completely. This might sound a bit weird, but narcolepsy is a pretty common disease, right up there with Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. On one hand, it is a fairly rare condition in countries like Israel, where only 1 in 500 000 people suffer from narcolepsy. On the other hand, the United States of America is not so lucky (about 1 in 2000 people is affected by the sleeping disease), but Japan seems to be the world leader in sleepy people: 1 in 600 is diagnosed with narcolepsy every day. What makes narcolepsy to hard to trace is the fact that it can be considered a very sneaky condition and can go misdiagnosed for years at a time. The reason behind this situation could be that physicians believe that narcolepsy is not a real disease until the symptoms become disturbing. It is true that certain primary symptoms coincide with just about any other illness out there, including the flu and up to cancer: The earliest narcolepsy signs can be fatigue, tiredness and problems with concentration, attention, memory and performances. Also, in some severe cases, even seizure and mental illnesses can be considered valid symptoms. Narcolepsy: the causes behind the disease Since narcolepsy has only recently been accepted as a disease, its cause is somewhat of a mystery so far. However, in recent years, there has been some progress made in the search for the cause of the sleeping disease. Now, all of this is based on a small number of subjects that

have been diagnosed with narcolepsy, but that does not mean that most patients do not share the same anatomical problems as the ones that were tested: narcolepsy sufferers present with some abnormalities in the structure and function of a special group of nerve cells, known as hypocretin neurons. These hyprocretin neurons have, basically, only one role: to help regulate the sleeping patterns of a person. If they are not completely healthy, the affected person either oversleeps (in the case of narcolepsy) or does not sleep at all (for chronic insomnia). One theory that has been running rampant in the latest studies is that these nerve cells are damaged by an autoimmune reaction. Now, the question that must be answered is what triggers the autoimmune reaction that destroys the hypocretin neurons? Scientists have found out that the reason could be environmental, for example infection or trauma, as well as drug - induced (some drugs could have an unusual effect on the autoimmune system). However, nothing has been declared correct with any degree of certainty and, for this reason, for now, the cause of narcolepsy remains unknown.

Narcolepsy tends to be an annoying disease. Excessive daytime sleepiness is one of the most common of narcolepsy symptoms and it affects many people. Learn more about this condition on the official narcolepsy symptoms site:

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Have You Got Narcolepsy? Help Is At Hand  

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