Daytime sleepiness, muscle cramps and weight gain, which can lead to obesity, are among the "Control" symptoms of narcolepsy and can help determine this. This is an autoimmune disease, still mysterious, because its causes are unknown and very difficult to recognize.
It can be confused even with epilepsy or depression, therefore correct diagnosis can be up to ten years after the first symptoms. This has an important social and personal impact on the patient.
Narcolepsy can be defined as sleep disorder of chronic and neurological origin with altered regulation and is characterized by increased daytime sleepiness and abnormal REM sleep. "This is a rare disease, due to its low frequency: 20-30 cases per 100,000 inhabitants,
Top-level professionals have another tool for recognizing narcolepsy: calls »red flags“(Red flags), that is, the alarm mechanisms identified by scientists.
Giuseppe PlazziProfessor of Neurology, University of Bologna and President Italian Sleep Medicine AssociationHe explained that "this is a rare disease in which cells are abnormally produced by their own immune system, which destroys the necessary neurons to maintain active wakefulness."
The scientist explained that this condition does not reduce life expectancy at all and does not cause other neurodegenerative pathologies, but it does not disappear and can be treated with symptomatic drugs. “The big novelty in this area is the ability to replace a substance that is lost in the brain by synthesis,” he explained.
Symptoms are simple and even common in other pathologies. That is why narcolepsy can be detected very late, which sometimes has complex consequences: learning difficulties, the possibility of accidents and mistakes, which can also lead to the loss of work and social relationships.
"This is manifested especially in children and adolescents and affects both men and women."Plazzi said that" long diagnostic times have enormous consequences, because you live 10 or 14 years, not knowing what you have, you live disappointingly. " It is at this point that the intervention "Red Flags", a new tool for the rapid recognition of the disease. “For the first time we will know who they are and where the sick are, we will find out where and how to intervene,” he said.