Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What do doctors look for during a narcolepsy evaluation?"
Can certain things trigger narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder which has the principle characteristic of excessive daytime sleepiness. People that suffer from narcolepsy often fall asleep during the day. These episodes of sleep often come at in-opportune times. Sometimes people will fall asleep while driving, while sitting at the dinner table, or while working. Narcolepsy is often associated with a different syndrome called cataplexy. Cataplexy is the sudden loss of muscle tone (often causing someone to collapse) that is triggered by an emotional state (often laughter). During a narcolepsy evaluation, a physician that specializes in sleep will ask you questions about your symptoms and perform a thorough physical exam. Often the diagnosis of narcolepsy is apparent just with this simple evaluation. If there is any question about the diagnosis, the doctor will administer a sleep study and a multiple sleep latency test (MSLT). Narcolepsy is thought to be a disease that is genetically based, though there is still much to learn about it's cause. For now, I must say that we do not know exactly what triggers it. If you have symptoms that sound like narcolepsy, then I suggest that you schedule an appointment with a pulmonary doctor that specializes in sleep. The two of you can discuss you symptoms and can proceed with a workup and treatment ASAP.
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