The good news for those of you who have been falling asleep at the drop of a hat is that there is a treatment! Although this is some positive encouragement, it is not time to completely celebrate just yet. The modern treatment for Narcolepsy involves mainly the symptoms and it is important to recognize that much about this disorder is still unknown. Both the diagnosis and the treatments still remain somewhat open-ended. There has been continuing research about Narcolepsy, however, and scientists are studying methods for how to support a more accurate diagnosis. Although there are medications to cure the related symptoms such as cataplexy, EDS, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis, scientists still can not come up with a full treatment that will eliminated the disorder as a whole. Instead, we treat the symptoms one at a time and hope for a more complete cure in the near future.
According to many scientific clinical trials since 1999, the drug Modafinil had been used for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness or EDS. Antidepressant drugs such as tricyclics and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, on the other hand, are effective drugs for cataplexy syndrome. Again, there is no known cure for narcolepsy as a whole because of its unpredictable nature. This does not mean you should give up. There are a lot of great symptomatic treatments that can help you to live a somewhat normal life.
As many people know, Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder where symptoms can be experienced at a very young age and can only be diagnosed after years. Patients have been known to fall asleep almost instantly in the middle of a sentence and this can be quite dangerous considering the many places you need to be during the day. Studies show that in most cases, patients who suffer from it had developed infection, immune-system dysfunction, trauma, hormonal changes, traumatic injuries, tumor growth due to exposure to toxins and stress prior to their narcolepsy symptoms attack. This has been a hopeful discovery for the sufferers who are eager to receive a treatment. Aside from this finding, a number of variant forms of genes called Allenes have been pinpointed in a group of human genes. People who are diagnosed to have narcolepsy are those who have only specific variants in the genes but these alone are not sufficient to cause the disorder. There are still clinical studies that show the condition to be more unpredictable by nature. Although the FDA approved the drug xylem or sodium oxybate, also known as GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) to treat it, its was later restricted due to safety concerns associated with it.
None of the currently available medications are able to help narcolepsy patients have a consistent state of alertness. Many sufferers confess poor work or school performances due to the poor mental alertness. Some would even experience a loss of muscle tone which leads to motor accidents. The symptom cataplexy occurs spontaneously at times and is triggered by sudden or strong emotions such as anger, stress, fear, humor, and excitement.
Narcolepsy cannot yet be cured because of the lack of understanding of its causes but EDS and cataplexy are both the most disabling symptoms of the disorder and can only be controlled by drug treatment. Again, the treatment regimen is only considered to be a symptomatic change and not a symptom elimination.
The National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) sponsors research on neurological disorders including sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy. As part of this responsibility, the NINDS also supports various medical institutions across the country in their respective research. Some of the most helpful scientific studies conducted over the years include “A Safety and Effectiveness Study of a Single Dose of JNJ-17216498 in Patients With Narcolepsy” and “Body Weight Regulation in Patients With Narcolapsy”. Other studies that have proven somewhat enlightening are the “Effectiveness Of The Drug GSK 189254 In Treating Patients With Narcolepsy” and the “Trial of Xyrem (Sodium Oxybate) for the Treatment of Narcolepsy”. All of these have concluded that, while there are available medications to relieve some symptoms, there is still no complete cure for the condition as a whole.