Cataplexy, Cataplexy Definition

Cataplexy is the instantaneous muscle weakness or paralysis without loss of consciousness, which is triggered by emotional reactions such as joy, anger, fear, happiness, or, often, surprise. The weakness may be limited to the extremities (e.g., patients may drop the rod when a fish bites the bait) and can cause sudden drops after laughter or anger.

The attacks are the result of reduced muscle tone that occurs during REM sleep. Cataplexy occurs in about 3 / 4 patients. That is the short cataplexy definition. Narcolepsy with cataplexy is common, and cataplexy is one of the narcolepsy symptoms.

Cataplexy Symptoms, Narcolepsy With Cataplexy

Cataplexy is the second most common symptom of narcolepsy, it occurs in 60-90% of people with this disease. Patients describe it as a sudden brief loss of muscle strength, which is always associated with any sudden emotional event (laughter, anger, surprise, grief, disappointment, embarrassment, excitement or sexual arousal).

Cataplexy symptoms have many forms: the attack can occur with kneeling, weakness in hands, speech becomes slurred and unclear, but further cataplexy symptoms may weaken the whole body, so that the patient suddenly collapses like a sack. Cataplexy attack lasts a few seconds to several minutes.

The patient is always conscious, but unable to speak. Cataplexy is seen in patients aged 15-30 years, usually after the onset of excessive daytime sleepiness. The frequency of attacks can vary from several attacks each day to a few attacks per year (75% of people with cataplexy have at least one attack per day).

Cataplexy Treatment

Cataplexy, though is cause of narcolepsy, must be treated in different way and with different medicines. In past cataplexy treatments were antidepressants such as: imipramine, clomipramine and protriptyline. Due to serious side-effects of these medicines, in recent period they have been replaces with newer medicine such as venlafaxine. For narcolepsy cataplexy syndrome Xyrem (sodium oxybate) is recommended. Those medicines will help your brain to make the best use of good night sleep and therefore prevent cataplexy.