Diagnosing of Narcolepsy is done by a Neurologist. It is done by taking a detailed medical history and physical examination. There are no specific tests that can diagnose narcolepsy, but certain tests can help rule out other diseases that may cause similar symptoms. Some of the tests include:
- Sleep studies (polysomnography)
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Brain scans (e.g., MRI, CT scan)
If narcolepsy is suspected, the neurologist may refer the person to a sleep specialist for further evaluation and treatment. A sleep specialist may order additional tests to help confirm the diagnosis of narcolepsy. Some of these tests include:
- Sleep diary
- Cataplexy questionnaire
- Maintenance of wakefulness test
There is no cure for narcolepsy, but there are treatments that can help control symptoms. Treatment options include medications and lifestyle changes. It is important to work with a doctor to find the best treatment for each person. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for narcolepsy, so it is important to work with a doctor to find the best treatment for each person. Some of the medications that are prescribed include:
- Sodium oxybate
Lifestyle changes that may help control symptoms include:
- Regular exercise
- Staying on a regular sleep schedule
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
- Getting plenty of restful sleep
Epworth Sleepiness Scale
The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is a questionnaire that can help assess how likely a person is to fall asleep in different situations. It is used to help determine if someone has narcolepsy or another sleep disorder. The scale consists of 10 questions, and each question is scored from 0 (not sleepy at all) to 3 (very sleepy). The total score is the sum of all the scores. A person who scores 10 or higher may have a sleep disorder, such as narcolepsy. A score of less than 10 does not necessarily mean that a person does not have a sleep disorder. It is important to talk to a doctor if you are concerned about your level of sleepiness.
A polysomnogram (PSG) is a test used to diagnose sleep disorders. It is usually done in a sleep lab and involves recording different body functions while a person sleeps. This includes brain waves, heart rate, breathing, and movement. A PSG can help determine if a person has a sleep disorder, such as narcolepsy.
Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT)
A multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) is a test that is used to diagnose narcolepsy. It is usually done in a sleep lab and involves measuring how long it takes a person to fall asleep during several naps. This test can help determine if a person has a problem with excessive daytime sleepiness.
Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT)
The Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT) is a test that is used to measure how well a person can stay awake during the day. It involves sitting in a quiet, dark room and staying awake for a set period. This test can help determine if someone has narcolepsy.
The Cataplexy Questionnaire is a questionnaire that is used to help determine if someone has cataplexy. Cataplexy is a symptom of narcolepsy that involves the sudden loss of muscle tone. This questionnaire asks about the frequency and severity of different symptoms of cataplexy.
Blood tests can help rule out other diseases that may cause similar symptoms to narcolepsy. Some of the tests include:
- Blood sugar test (glucose tolerance test)
- Test for thyroid function
- Test for iron levels
- Test for vitamin B12 levels
- Test for autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
Urine tests can help rule out other diseases that may cause similar symptoms to narcolepsy. Some of the tests include:
- Urine sugar test (glycosuria)
- Test for protein in the urine (proteinuria)
- Test for red blood cells in urine (hematuria)
- Test for white blood cells in urine (leukocyturia)
- Test for infection (urinalysis)
- Test for drugs or alcohol (urine drug screen)
- Test for pregnancy (urine pregnancy test)
- Test for a hormone called hypocretin (CSF hypocretin levels)
After doing various tests, including the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, polysomnogram (PSG), Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT), and cataplexy questionnaire, your doctor may be able to give you a final diagnosis of narcolepsy. If you are diagnosed with narcolepsy, your doctor will work with you to find the best treatment plan. This may include medications, lifestyle changes, and therapy.
- National Sleep Foundation.
- St. Luke’s University Health Network; “The Epworth Sleepiness Scale.”
- National Library of Medicine: “A New Method for Measuring Daytime Sleepiness: the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.”
- University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics: “Preparing for Polysomnography – Overnight Sleep Study.”
- Sleep Foundation: “Diagnosing Narcolepsy.”