We have all had the urge to fall asleep when we are tired, or we have been awake all night — but imagine constant sleep attacks and drowsiness throughout the day. Narcolepsy, a chronic neurologic condition, can lead to abnormal sleep patterns, impacting an individual’s way of life as a result. But did you know there are around 3 types of narcolepsy?
In this blog, we will discuss the causes, types, and treatments of narcolepsy. Carry on reading to explore this sleep disorder and how it can affect your life.
What Causes Narcolepsy?
The exact reason why narcolepsy occurs is unknown.
An insufficient amount of hypocretin, a brain protein, is usually found in people who are diagnosed with type 1 narcolepsy. This brian protein is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycles. According to scientists, there are multiple causes that can result in low hypocretin levels. Some factors that increase the risk of narcolepsy are:
- Family history
- Brain trauma
If you suspect narcolepsy, it is better to visit a sleep specialist to get started on the treatment right away.
Types of Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is a lifelong condition that exists in several forms. Here are the types of narcolepsy that exist:
Type 1 Narcolepsy
Type 1 narcolepsy is one of the primary forms of the disorder. With Type 1 Narcolepsy, you might experience cataplexy — sudden but temporary muscle weakness that may leave you in an immobile state. In addition, you struggle with speech and even fall often. Experiencing intense or negative emotions, such as laughter, anger, etc., can trigger an episode of cataplexy, which lasts around a few seconds to a few minutes. Type 1 Narcolepsy also comes with low levels of the chemical hypocretin-1, which manages wakefulness. Other than this, general symptoms of narcolepsy also occur, which include the following:
- Sleepiness during daytime
- Sleep attacks take place anywhere or anytime, even if you are walking
- Sleep paralysis
- Hallucinations that may be vivid and, in some cases, scary
- Interruptions in sleep or trouble sleeping/ staying asleep
Type 2 Narcolepsy
In type 2 narcolepsy, cataplexy doesn’t occur. Hence, the affected individual will not experience a loss of muscle control. Since there is no cataplexy or low hypocretin levels, Type 2 Narcolepsy is difficult to diagnose due to the less severe symptoms.
The primary symptom is excessive daytime sleepiness — which is also associated with other health conditions. Therefore, people with this type of narcolepsy may not get a diagnosis for years. In some cases, Type 2 Narcolepsy is believed to be a precursor to Type 1.
When it comes to secondary narcolepsy, the exact cause is known: the injured hypothalamus. Hypothalamus is the area in our brains that regulates sleep, and head trauma, brain tumor, multiple sclerosis, or brain inflammation can injure it.
Apart from typical narcolepsy symptoms, over 10 hours of extensive sleep and severe neurological issues also take place.
There are three types of narcolepsy: Type 1 Narcolepsy, Type 2 Narcolepsy, and Secondary Narcolepsy. If you suspect you have this condition, visiting a sleep specialist might help. At Sleep & Headache Solution, we care about you and your health. Visit us at 13114 FM 1960 West, Ste 105B, Houston, TX 77065, for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. You can also dial (832) 688-8886 to schedule an appointment.