Treatment For Narcolepsy
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Before you start looking for the treatment for narcolepsy, make sure that you know and understand:

Treatment for Narcolepsy

Once you have a full understanding of what narcolepsy is as well as the symptoms of narcolepsy, we can now get into the treatment for narcolepsy. It is important to understand that there is no cure for narcolepsy. That being said, there are prescription drugs on the market, as well as behavioural strategies / sleep strategies that can be implemented that will help control the symptoms of narcolepsy.

Treatment for Narcolepsy - Prescription Drugs

Two of the main symptoms of narcolepsy that are commonly combatted with prescription drugs are EDS or excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy (sudden and involuntary loss of muscle control).

For EDS, doctors typically prescribe drugs such as modafinil as well as other amphetamine type stimulants like methylphenidate. These also help to reduce the occurrences of sleep attacks. Although many people claim that these drugs work fairly well for their intended purpose, they do come with the downside of side effects such as: irritable stomach, nocturnal sleep disruption, anorexia, nervousness and irritability... to name a few. And, as with many prescription drugs, especially amphetamine-like drugs, there is a high chance of addictiveness. People taking this drug should also be careful that they don't develop a tolerance, leading to a need for higher dosages and subsequently a higher chance of addiction.

Prescription drugs that have been effective to date in controlling bouts of cataplexy include two types of antidepressant drugs.

  1. Tricyclics - which include clomipramine, desipramine, imipramine and protriptyline
  2. Certain serotonin and noradrenergic reuptake inhibitors - which include fluoxetine, venlafaxine and atomoxetine

In general, people see fewer unfavourable effects with antidepressants than with amphetamines but side effects do nonetheless occur. Antidepressant medication side effects may include anything from heart rhythm problems and high blood pressure to impotence.

Even though some people have had success using prescription drugs to regulate or control their narcolepsy symptoms, there still aren't any medications which allow someone suffering from this sleep disorder to maintain a full state of wakefulness.

Treatment for Narcolepsy - Behavioural Strategies

Treatment for Narcolepsy

As there is no drug available that will eliminate all the symptoms of narcolepsy, drug use should be accompanied by lifestyle changes and / or behavioural sleep strategies. Together they can greatly increase the quality of sleep experienced throughout the night as well as help fight daytime fatigue.

Behavioural sleep strategies that you'll want to include are:

  • Exercise - at least 20 minutes / day and 4 to 5 hours before heading to bed
  • Avoid smoking - especially the closer to bedtime you get
  • Avoid alcohol as it may get you to sleep quicker but it will negatively affect the quality of your sleep
  • Try not to drink any caffeinated beverages during the afternoon or evening hours
  • Keep your bedroom temperature regulated - not too warm and not too cold, but cooler is better than waker
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule - go to bed at the same time each night

If possible, narcolepsy patients should take short naps during the day. Talk to your boss or teacher to make sure that you can schedule these naps into your day - this will help prevent any unforeseen sleep attacks.

When working with prescription medication, especially medicine that can be potentially addictive, it is important to talk to your doctor. You should make sure to contact your doctor if there are changes in any part of your life; this can be the key to finding the correct prescription medicine. Keep in mind that each person’s body chemistry is slightly different; therefore it is important to make sure your treatment for narcolepsy is customized to you.

Although living with this condition may seem unfair, the most important thing to remember is that treatment is possible. Treatment for narcolepsy has many parts and as the patient grows older things will change and medications will need to be adjusted, but it can be done.