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Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder in which the brain’s sleep-wake processes are disrupted, leading to debilitating daytime sleepiness and an urge to fall asleep suddenly.

Other symptoms can include sudden loss of muscle tone, sleep paralysis and hallucinations. People with narcolepsy may also have other sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia.

There’s no cure for narcolepsy, but medical treatment and lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms. The board-certified sleep disorder experts at Pulmonary Consultants of San Antonio help patients manage symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Click here to request an appointment or call us at 210-692-0361.

Questions & Answers

What is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes you to fall asleep suddenly or feel overwhelmingly exhausted. If you have narcolepsy, you might find it difficult to stay awake at work, during exercise, or even eat a meal.

Though there’s no cure for narcolepsy, with diagnosis and treatment, it’s possible to manage uncomfortable symptoms, boost your energy levels, and improve your quality of life.

What are the symptoms of narcolepsy?

Symptoms of narcolepsy include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Hallucinations

Many people with narcolepsy also experience changes during rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. For example, people with narcolepsy reach REM sleep more quickly than others, typically within 15 minutes of dozing off.

When should I see a doctor about narcolepsy?

Make an appointment with the team at Pulmonary Consultants of San Antonio if you regularly experience excessive daytime sleepiness and it interferes with your ability to work, exercise, or spend time with family and friends. That’s especially true if your symptoms last for several weeks or longer.

What causes narcolepsy?

Researchers aren’t entirely sure what causes narcolepsy, but several factors are thought to contribute. For example, some people with narcolepsy have lower levels of hypocretin, a brain chemical that helps regulate the REM sleep cycle.

Genetics may also play a role, but research suggests there’s very little risk of parents passing narcolepsy onto their children.

How is narcolepsy diagnosed?

To diagnose narcolepsy, your Pulmonary Consultants of San Antonio provider reviews your health history and asks about your symptoms, including when they first started and if there are certain times when they’re worse.

Afterward, they conduct a physical exam and have you fill out a form discussing your sleep history. The form asks a series of questions that gauge your symptoms and level of sleepiness.

If these steps don’t provide enough information about your condition, the team might recommend an overnight sleep study at a sleep center. Your provider can refer you to a facility in the area.

During an overnight sleep study, a qualified medical provider monitors your heart rate, breathing, and brain activity while you sleep. The data collected helps confirm a diagnosis and assists in guiding treatment.

How is narcolepsy treated?

There’s no cure for narcolepsy, but the team at Pulmonary Consultants of San Antonio can help manage your symptoms through a combination of healthy lifestyle changes and prescription medication.

They might recommend:

  • Sticking to a schedule
  • Taking naps
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • Exercising regularly
  • Prescription stimulants
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

These treatments can help you feel more alert and prevent you from falling asleep suddenly.

10007 Huebner Road, Bldg 4
San Antonio, TX 78240
FAX: 210-692-0151

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Tuesday: 8am-4:30pm
Wednesday: 8am-4:30pm
Thursday: 8am-4:30pm
Friday: 8am-4:30pm
Saturday: Closed
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