More than 60 percent of the Spanish patients suffering from it are not diagnosed.
The delay in the diagnosis of narcolepsy can reach 10 years and it is estimated that at present More than 60 percent of Spanish patients are undiagnosed, The Spanish Neurology Society (SEN) has announced this Monday of the commemoration European Day of Narcolepsy.
"Narcolepsy is a chronic disease that develops gradually. This situation, along with the delay that usually occurs in the diagnosis, means it The vast majority of patients are adults when diagnosed ". explained coordinator of the study group for disease disorders and sleep in the transmitter, dr. carles gaig.
In Spain About 25,000 cases of the disease have been diagnosed, which is characterized by a excessive daytime drowsiness, cataplexy, sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations and / or sleep disorders night. However, only between 10 and 15 percent of patients are typical symptoms of the disease. In addition, up to 60 percent of them have another sleep disorder associated with them.
"You have to take into account that 40-50 percent of cases are first symptoms of the disease occurs in adolescence and generally it Excessive daytime sleepiness It is usually the first symptom to show up ", the expert added.
On the other hand, 50 percent of patients have dicultad to sleep well at night; 20 percent suffer nightmares, paralysis and hallucinations; 80 percent presents automatic behavior or sleepwalkingand 20 percent suffer eating disorders with a tendency to obesity.
"Identifying the cases of narcolepsy that are still not diagnosed is to raise awareness of this disease both in society in general and among the scientific community essential to improve patients' quality of life", according to Dr. Gaig.
Dr. Gaig has admitted it "In recent years we have achieved significantly improve diagnostic times, mainly because it has been discovered that The cause of this disease is the loss of hypothalamic neurons that synthesizes hypocretin, although the cause of this loss of neurons is still unknown. "
Today there are pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments which allows patients to experience "an important improvement", according to SEN for two of the main symptoms: cataplexy, characterized by episodes of muscle tone loss that are primarily triggered by emotions and excessive insomnia during the day.
narcolepsy unchecked "It causes problems in school performance in childhood, as well as in attention, in memory, in language … Something that is also seen in adult humans is reflected in lower performance, memory lapses or reduced response times. In addition to these patients there is an increased risk to present psychiatric problems, primarily anxiety and depression, "the expert says.