Causes of narcolepsy

Causes of narcolepsy

What is the causes of narcolepsy?

The causes of narcolepsy is still mostly unclear. However, scientists believe that environmental and genetic factors may cause it. Some possible causes include:

  • A virus or other infection
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Brain tumours
  • Stressful life events
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Use of certain medications
  • Genetic factors

Despite still not knowing the cause of narcolepsy, scientists have been able to develop treatments to help people manage the symptoms. For example, medications like Modafinil can help improve wakefulness, and therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help people manage their sleepiness and fatigue.

Immune system problem

Immune system problems may also play a role in the development of narcolepsy. For example, in people with narcolepsy, the immune system may mistakenly attack the brain cells that control sleepiness (called orexin cells). This can lead to a decrease in the amount of orexin produced, which can cause symptoms of narcolepsy.

Previous head injury

A previous head injury may also increase the risk of developing narcolepsy. This is because a head injury can damage the orexin cells in the brain, leading to a decrease in orexin production and symptoms of narcolepsy.

Smoking and alcohol

Smoking and drinking alcohol can also increase the risk of developing narcolepsy. This is because these activities can damage the orexin cells in the brain.

Medications

Some drugs can potentially raise the chances of getting narcolepsy. For example, some antidepressants and antipsychotic medications can increase the risk of narcolepsy.

Genetics

The genetics of narcolepsy have a part in its development. For example, if someone has a family member with narcolepsy, they may be more likely to develop the condition themselves.

Possible Triggers

The cause of narcolepsy is still mostly unclear. However, scientists believe that environmental and genetic factors may cause it. Some possible causes include:

  • A virus or other infection
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Brain tumours
  • Stressful life events
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Use of certain medications
  • Genetic factors

Pandemrix vaccine

In 2009, a study suggested that the Pandemrix vaccine may have been linked to an increase in people who developed narcolepsy. The Pandemrix vaccine was used to help protect people against the swine flu (H1N1) virus. However, further research is needed to confirm if there is a link between the vaccine and narcolepsy.

Impact of narcolepsy on sleep

People with narcolepsy frequently have difficulties falling asleep at night and are excessively sleepy throughout the day. This can impact their quality of life and interfere with their daily activities. For example, people with narcolepsy may have difficulty working or attending school and find it difficult to socialise with others. Additionally, people with narcolepsy may also experience other symptoms such as hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and cataplexy.

Despite still not knowing the cause of narcolepsy, scientists have been able to develop treatments to help people manage the symptoms. For example, medications like Modafinil can help improve wakefulness, and therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help people manage their sleepiness and fatigue.

Secondary Narcolepsy

Secondary narcolepsy is a condition that can develop after someone has been diagnosed with narcolepsy. Secondary narcolepsy can cause similar symptoms to narcolepsy, but the cause is usually different. For example, secondary narcolepsy may be caused by a different type of infection or certain medications. Secondary narcolepsy is not as common as primary narcolepsy, and it is usually easier to treat.

Final Verdict

What causes narcolepsy is still unknown, but scientists believe environmental and genetic factors may cause it.

Sources:

  • https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/narcolepsy/detail_narcolepsy.html
  • https://www.sleepeducation.com/disorders/narcolepsy
  • https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/narcolepsy-symptoms-treatment
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov /pmc/articles/PMC2795486/

 

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