Narcolepsy Specialist

Bharat Tolia, MD -  - Neurologist

Comprehensive Neurology

Bharat Tolia, MD

Neurologist located in Pontiac, MI

Narcolepsy is a chronic condition with potentially dangerous side effects, but Bharat Tolia, MD, has treatments to help you manage your symptoms. Dr. Tolia offers sleep studies on Wednesday and Friday nights at Comprehensive Neurology Headache and Sleep Center in Pontiac, Michigan. When narcolepsy is disrupting your life, Dr. Tolia can help you cope. Call the office or schedule an appointment online.

Narcolepsy Q & A

What is narcolepsy?

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder. This chronic neurological condition is characterized by a overwhelming drowsiness during the daytime and the person suddenly and unwillingly falling asleep. It can be difficult for people with narcolepsy to stay awake for extended periods of time.

What are the symptoms of narcolepsy?

Symptoms of narcolepsy can vary in severity, but they usually continue for life. These symptoms include:

  • Falling asleep without warning, regardless of time of day or location
  • Weakness of muscles that can cause slurred speech, drooping head, or legs buckling
  • The temporary inability to speak or move when waking or falling asleep
  • Hallucinations that occur upon waking or falling asleep

Sometimes the symptoms of narcolepsy only last a few seconds, and you continue performing the task you were doing while awake. When this takes place, you usually don’t remember what you did.

If you have narcolepsy, you might also suffer from other sleep disorders like insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and obstructive sleep apnea.

What causes narcolepsy?

The exact cause of narcolepsy isn’t known, but a variety of factors can play a role. These include low levels of the brain neurochemical called hypocretin that regulates REM sleep and wakefulness.  

How is narcolepsy diagnosed and treated?

To reach a narcolepsy diagnosis, Dr. Tolia conducts several tests to evaluate your symptoms and reviews a detailed sleep history, including a diary of your sleep patterns. Additional in-depth analysis might be required for a sleep study.

During your sleep study, Dr. Tolia uses polysomnography to measure sleep signals by placing electrodes on your scalp. Polysomnography measures the electrical activity in your brain and heart, the movement of your muscles and eyes, it and monitors your breathing.

Dr. Tolia also observes your sleep patterns during the day through a multiple sleep latency test. This test is to determine how long it takes for you to fall asleep during the day and enter into REM sleep.

Based on your evaluation, Dr. Tolia recommends a variety medications to manage your narcolepsy. These might include stimulants to stimulate the central nervous system or other medications that suppress REM sleep and reduce other symptoms like hallucinations.

Narcolepsy symptoms can also be lessened through lifestyle modifications like napping, adhering to a sleep schedule, avoiding alcohol and nicotine, and getting regular exercise.

If you’re struggling with the symptoms associated with narcolepsy, call Dr. Tolia or schedule an appointment online today.