September 22nd is World Narcolepsy Day. Many people envy “sleep in seconds”, but there is a group of people who feel sleepy at any time. They are awake one second and fall asleep the next second. They suddenly fall asleep while driving or suddenly fall while walking. This brings great harm to themselves and others. Bring safety risks. Why does this happen? Zhao Zhihong, director of the Department of Neurology at Hunan Provincial People’s Hospital, said these people may be suffering from narcolepsy.
“Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder caused by the loss of hypocretin-producing neurons in the hypothalamus and is a severe chronic sleep-wake state instability,” said Zhao Zhihong.
What are the symptoms of narcolepsy in daily life? Zhao Zhihong gave an example. The main characteristics of this disease are irresistible drowsiness and sudden sleep during the day. Patients are prone to excessive sleepiness during the day, may suffer from cataplexy, sleep paralysis at night, hallucinations before falling asleep or waking up, and restless sleep at night.
Zhao Zhihong said that narcolepsy can start in young children and adolescents, and the disease course runs through the critical period of schooling and personality development. It may cause patients to lose memory, have difficulty concentrating, decline in learning ability, slow movement, and even develop mental and emotional disorders. , thus seriously affecting the patient’s study, life and social functions, and placing a heavy burden on individuals and families.
Based on many years of outpatient experience, Zhao Zhihong said that the peak incidence of narcolepsy is generally between the ages of 8 and 12. Due to lack of awareness and misunderstanding, it takes an average of 8 to 15 years from the onset of narcolepsy symptoms to diagnosis. Most patients have not yet received the diagnosis. Being diagnosed or misdiagnosed with epilepsy, depression, schizophrenia, etc.
So, what are the conditions that suggest narcolepsy? Zhao Zhihong said that first, uncontrollable sleepiness or recurrent sleep attacks during the day are the most important clinical manifestations. Some patients may have sudden sleep attacks while walking, eating, or talking, or show some unconscious behaviors or movements; second, cataplexy Attacks manifest as sudden unconscious general weakness and falling, and may also manifest as drooping eyelids, drooping of the head and shoulders, sticking out the tongue, and inability to speak, which are obvious during emotional stimulation or laughter; third, hallucinations before falling asleep, dream-like experiences, and “out-of-body experiences.” “sense”; the fourth is the “ghost pressing on the bed” feeling of sleep paralysis, where the patient is conscious but unable to move or speak autonomously during sleep; the fifth is restless sleep at night, with repeated awakenings, and some patients may experience involuntary movements of the lower limbs.
“If the above situations occur, you need to be vigilant. If necessary, go to the hospital for examination and ask a professional doctor for diagnosis and management.” Zhao Zhihong said.
For patients who have been diagnosed with narcolepsy, Zhao Zhihong recommends that naps, especially naps, be arranged in a planned manner during the day, and that they should maintain regular and adequate sleep at night. For children and adolescent patients, parents and teachers should express understanding and encourage them to adopt a positive and healthy attitude towards life, and should not increase their academic burden. For adult patients, driving, working at heights and underwater should be avoided. If psychological symptoms such as depression and low self-esteem occur, effective psychological intervention should be provided in a timely manner.