Cataplexy Symptoms and Cataplexy Causes

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    Dr Suraj Awadhani

    Cataplexy Symptoms

    Cataplexy NarcolepsyCataplexy symptoms vary person to person especially in terms of intensity. By definition, cataplexy is a loss of muscle tone for a brief period. Usually, this episode is triggered by a strong bout of emotions. One may get cataplexy attack by laughing. Also, the person may encounter cataplexy symptoms by excitement, happiness or even after anger too. Most of the cataplexy cases are associated with Narcolepsy. However, there are certain brain conditions wherein a person may have cataplexy symptoms. Rare cases of stroke, encephalitis or even head trauma may have cataplexy symptoms.

    The frequency of cataplexy symptoms varies even in an individual case. Sometimes the condition can be disruptive. On an average 1 in 2000 people may have narcolepsy. Although this may be true, very few narcolepsy people suffer from cataplexy. Sometimes an episode of cataplexy would be the only presenting symptom while diagnosing Narcolepsy. Until then, this sleep disorder remains ignored. Diagnosing narcolepsy is easier in cases where cataplexy affects larger muscles. Such people mostly presented by a fall during performing daily activities.

    Below is the list of common cataplexy symptoms

    • Losing control of facial expressions
    • Tremors in body parts
    • Twitching especially of facial muscles
    • Drooping of eyelid
    • Head drooping
    • Speech difficulty
    • Involuntary movements of tongue
    • Jaw dropping
    • Falling on ground without warning (especially in severe cases)
    • Feeling paralyzed
    • Limping
    • Neck muscle weakness
    • Twitching of body muscles

    Cataplexy triggers also vary person to person. Commonly cataplexy happens after a bout of laughter. The variation of cataplexy also observed in an individual person. In conclusion, the person who faced cataplexy episode after laughing may not have cataplexy while laughing for the next time. Similarly, if one person suffers from cataplexy after laughing doesn’t mean that another person suffers from cataplexy due to laughing.

    What Causes Cataplexy?

    Cataplexy is commonly associated with Narcolepsy. Like Narcolepsy, Cataplexy is believed to be caused by lack of Hypocretin. Certain brain neurons produce Hypocretin. The neurotransmitter Hypocretin is also termed as Orexin. Orexin deficiency affects sleep patterns of an individual.

    As a matter of fact, cataplexy symptoms are often observed after a bout of certain emotions. Below is the list of emotions which may trigger cataplexy attacks.

    • Laughter
    • Anger
    • Stress
    • Excitement
    • Joy
    • Depression

    The person remains conscious while cataplexy attack. In fact, he is well aware of the situation. Most of the attacks happen for a shorter duration. The actual cause of Cataplexy symptoms without the history of Narcolepsy is unknown.

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