What is the root cause of narcolepsy?

What is the root cause of narcolepsy?

Many cases of narcolepsy are thought to be caused by a lack of a brain chemical called hypocretin (also known as orexin), which regulates sleep. The deficiency is thought to be the result of the immune system mistakenly attacking parts of the brain that produce hypocretin.

Can a brain scan show narcolepsy?

Imaging studies such as MRI are useful for excluding rare causes of symptomatic narcolepsy. Structural abnormalities of the brain stem and diencephalon may present as idiopathic narcolepsy. In patients with secondary narcolepsy, MRI of the brain may show various abnormalities that correspond to the underlying cause.

Which is part of the brain does narcolepsy affect?

Narcolepsy develops as a result of changes in the hypothalamus region of your brain. This small gland is located above your brain stem. The hypothalamus helps regulate the release of hormones that affect numerous parts of your body. For example, it’s responsible for releasing hypocretins, which help regulate sleep.

How are hypocretin secreting cells damaged in narcolepsy?

The most common mechanism of narcolepsy is an autoimmune process that damages hypocretin-secreting cells in the anterior hypothalamus of the brain. The hypocretin-secreting cells are incorrectly targeted and destroyed by immune T cells, leading to the deficit or absence of hypocretin throughout the brain.

How many people in the US have narcolepsy?

The condition stems from changes in your brain that affect your sleep-wake cycles. Overall, about 1 in 2,000 people in the United States may have narcolepsy. The actual number of people who it affects may be higher. This is because the symptoms can be similar to other sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea.

How are sleep tests used to diagnose narcolepsy?

Two specialized tests, which can be performed in a sleep disorders clinic, are required to establish a diagnosis of narcolepsy: Polysomnogram (PSG or sleep study). The PSG is an overnight recording of brain and muscle activity, breathing, and eye movements. Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT).

Can you suddenly develop narcolepsy?

People who suffer from narcolepsy have mixed signals sent from their brain about when to sleep, which is why narcoleptics fall asleep at inopportune times. One may develop narcolepsy at any time, although onset of the first symptom usually occurs after puberty, in late teens to young adulthood.

Is it fatigue or do you really have narcolepsy?

People with narcolepsy typically suffer from EDS, but individuals experiencing extreme fatigue do not necessarily have narcolepsy. Extreme sleepiness is narcolepsy’s predominant symptom. In addition to EDS, some people with narcolepsy suffer cataplexy, which affects about one out of five patients.

What causes narcolepsy Type 2?

In narcolepsy, the H1N1 influenza virus has been identified as one of the triggering infections that could lead to the disease. Since hypocretin levels are typically normal in people with type 2 narcolepsy, the cause of type 2 narcolepsy remains unclear.

What can cause narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy can sometimes be caused by a traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, or diseases like multiple sclerosis, or encephalitis which affect the brain.