Narcolepsy is an uncommon sleep disorder, but it can be very debilitating if left undiagnosed or untreated. It is characterized by four symptoms and signs:
1) Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
2) Cataplexy (periods of muscle weakness associated with strong emotion such as laughter)
3) Sleep Paralysis (sensation of awakening from sleep with complete muscle paralysis, unable to move)
4) Hypnogogic Hallucinations (visions or sounds that are not truly present but present with sleep onset).
Patients with narcolepsy usually require an overnight polysomnogram followed by a Multiple Sleep Latency test in order to confirm their diagnosis. Patients will fall asleep quickly during a series of naps during the daytime.
This disease requires treatment with medication to help improve the patient’s quality of life and help them stay awake during the daytime. Occasionally, laboratory tests are used to help confirm the diagnosis.
Dr. Carl D. Boethel, Director of the Scott & White Sleep Institute, also serves as Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine with the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. Dr. Boethel's patient care emphasis is Asthma, COPD, Diagnostic Sleep Evaluation (Formal Polysomnography), Fatigue, Intensive Care Services, Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Restless Leg Syndrome, Sleep Apnea, and Smoking Related Diseases.