Some of them are daytime drowsiness, muscle spasms, and weight gain "tell me" the symptoms of narcolepsy and can help identify it. This is an autoimmune disease that is still mysterious, because the cause is unknown and very difficult to recognize.
This can be confusing even with epilepsy or depression, so a correct diagnosis can reach up to ten years after the appearance of the first symptoms. This has important social and personal impacts for patients.
Narcolepsy can be defined as "a sleep disorders, chronic and neurological origin with regulatory changes and is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and abnormal manifestations of REM sleep. "This is a rare disease, because of its low frequency: 20-30 cases per 100,000 population.
Top-level specialists have one more tool for recognizing narcolepsy: calling "red flag"(red flag), that is, an alarm mechanism identified by scientists.
Giuseppe Plazzi, professor of neurology at the University of Bologna and president Italian Sleep Medicine Association, explaining that "it is a rare disease in which cells are produced abnormally by the body's own immune system which destroys essential neurons for the maintenance of active consciousness".
Scientists explain that this condition does not reduce life expectancy at all or cause other neurodegenerative pathologies, but does not disappear and can be treated with symptomatic drugs. "A great novelty in this field is the possibility of replacing lost substances in the brain by synthesis," he explained.
The symptoms are simple and even common in other pathologies. That's why narcolepsy can be identified very late, with sometimes complicated effects: learning difficulties, possible accidents and errors, which can also lead to loss of work and social relations.
"It manifests mainly in children and adolescents and affects men and women"Plazzi said that" a long diagnostic period has enormous consequences because you live for 10 or 14 years without knowing what you have, you live in frustration. "At this point the intervention of the" red flag ", a new tool for recognizing disease quickly." For the first time we will know who they are and where people are sick, we will know where and how to intervene, "he said.