Are you tired all of the time? Do you feel like you need naps or more rest than other people? Do you wake up tired and exhausted even after you’ve gotten plenty of sleep? If you’ve been struggling with long-term fatigue and exhaustion, you may be thinking that you are experiencing chronic fatigue syndrome. However, chronic fatigue syndrome is not the only disorder that can cause debilitating symptoms, like extreme tiredness. It may be possible that you are confusing the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome with narcolepsy.
Chronic fatigue syndrome and narcolepsy are very similar and yet very different at the same time. Both cause extreme tiredness, the excessive need for naps, forgetfulness, restless sleep, and muscle weakness. However, there are slight differences that can help you and your doctor determine what you’re up against.
Before either condition can be diagnosed, your doctor must check for other sleep disorders and medical problems. In fact, there is no specific test for chronic fatigue syndrome. It is simply diagnosed when everything else is ruled out.
The causes of chronic fatigue syndrome are unknown, but are suspected to be triggered by an immune or autoimmune disorder. It is mostly diagnosed in women between the ages of 40 and 50. Symptoms include a new onset of extreme fatigue or tiredness that is not relieved by sleeping and lasts for longer than six months. The fatigue experienced can become worse after exercise that is normally tolerated by the individual. Other symptoms include headaches, forgetfulness, an inability to concentrate, lymph node tenderness, joint pain, muscle weakness, and mild fever.
Narcolepsy is also thought to be caused by an autoimmune disorder. It is usually diagnosed in teenagers or individuals in their twenties. Your doctor can give you a test for narcolepsy by performing a spinal tap and checking for low levels of a chemical that regulates wakefulness and REM sleep, called hypocretin. People with extremely low levels of hypocretin in their spinal fluid usually experience the more severe symptoms of narcolepsy. However, in some cases, high levels of hypocretin are detected, which has lead researchers to determine that the receptors for hypocretin are damaged, making it unusable by the person.
The most common symptoms of narcolepsy are extreme fatigue and tiredness, much like chronic fatigue syndrome. However, narcoleptics often experience 2-4 hours of feeling fine before they are hit with a sudden “sleep attack” or extreme muscle weakness. Other symptoms associated with narcolepsy include cataplexy, hypnopompic hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. We will discuss these symptoms of narcolepsy more in depth in our next article, “Do I Have Narcolepsy?”.
Treatments for narcolepsy and chronic fatigue syndrome should be discussed with your doctor, but there are some things that you can do at home to help lessen the severity of the symptoms. Both disorders are considered to be an overreaction or under reaction of the immune system. Taking a daily multi-vitamin along with vitamin C can help to regulate the immune response and give you some relief. You can buy discount vitamins and the best vitamin C, vitamin c powder, online to save money on long-term treatments.