Narcolepsy in Children is a medical condition characterized by excessive sleepiness in children. This condition can impact all other activities of the child including academics and social functioning. The exact cause of the disease is unknown, but it is suspected to be related to the disruption of an area in the brain associated with sleep and awakening. Symptoms of Narcolepsy in Children are:
• Excessive daytime sleepiness
• Ongoing struggles to stay awake
• Unexpected sleep at odd times
• Cataplexy – brief loss of muscle control
• Sleep paralysis
HOW IS NARCOLEPSY IN CHILDREN DIAGNOSED?
A thorough physical exam and medical history is conducted to rule out any other possible medical conditions that may be causing the sleep symptoms. A sleep specialist conducts an overnight sleep study in a sleep laboratory. This test, called a polysomnogram, monitors sleep to help determine if any other sleep disorders are contributing to the child's sleeping difficulties. A multiple sleep latency test, is also done. This is a 5-nap test that evaluates daytime sleepiness and sleep patterns during a series of scheduled naps taken every 2 hours during the day. The results of these two tests are used to diagnose narcolepsy. Spinal fluid and genetic tests are reserved for very special cases.
HOW IS NARCOLEPSY IN CHILDREN TREATED?
There is no cure for the condition but the symptoms can be managed. Medication, behavioural modification and awareness will help with the prognosis.