Diagnosis of Narcolepsy

To reach a diagnosis of narcolepsy, your doctor will need to rule out any other possible medical conditions that could be causing the symptoms. To this end, he will perform a physical exam and may even require blood and urine tests. The results of these tests will indicate if symptoms such as excessive sleepiness are caused by narcolepsy or other disorders such as insomnia, anemia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, or seizures. Daytime sleepiness could also be attributed to any type of head trauma, a stroke, inflammatory conditions or any other neurodegenerative disorders. Certain medications may also cause excessive sleepiness.

If you think you may have narcolepsy, visit your doctor or health care provider with a detailed list of your symptoms. It is also recommended that you maintain a sleep diary before your consultation so that your doctor has a clearer picture of the severity of the symptoms.

Other Tests for Narcolepsy may include:

  • ECG
  • EEG
  • Genetic testing to check if narcolepsy runs in the family
  • Sleep study tests or polysomnogram will need to be performed for a confirmation of narcolepsy. To do this, you will be referred to a sleep specialist who will analyze your sleep in many ways. In addition to the polysomnogram or sleep test, which will be conducted in a sleep center to monitor your sleep patterns, you will also need to fill up the Epworth sleep questionnaire. This is a scale that determines what situations may be making you sleepy. The results of the questionnaire will give your doctor a fair idea about the irregularities in your sleep patterns.
  • MSLT or Multiple Sleep Latency Test will check how long it takes you to fall asleep during a daytime nap. People with narcolepsy fall asleep much faster than others.

Frequently asked questions
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  2. Michael Thorpy, Therapeutic advances in narcolepsy, Sleep Medicine, Volume 8, Issue 4, June 2007, Pages 427-440, ISSN 1389-9457, 10.1016/j.sleep.2007.03.004.
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