What is Fatal Familial Insomnia?

Fatal familial insomnia is a sleeping disorder that has genetic origins. This condition is so rare that only 28 families in the whole wide world have this sleeping disorder. There is a fifty percent chance that the offspring of parents with the dominant gene carrying the fatal familial insomnia would inherit the disorder. Because it is rare, cure for the condition is still unknown. Manifestations of symptoms would occur from middle to late adulthood, which is usually from 30 years to 60 years old. The length of the manifestations of this sleeping disorder would last for 7 to 18 months. Fatal familial insomnia is composed of four stages. The first stage usually lasts for about four months. Symptoms that occur during the first stage would include severe sleeplessness, panic attacks, and some phobias. As for the second stage, it can happen for five months. Symptoms for the second stage would include increasing panic attacks that are accompanied by hallucinations. After that, the person would enter the third stage with much worse symptoms usually lasting for three months. Difficulty in sleeping is so severe that it can cause extreme weight loss. The final fourth stage would last for six months or more with the patient experiencing dementia. The patient would also become eventually mute and not responsive.

The manifestations of fatal familial insomnia are very similar to that of the Alzheimer’s disease. However, the difference lies in the progression of the symptoms because in fatal familial insomnia, symptoms progress at a rapid rate. It is very prevalent that dementia in Alzheimer’s disease have slow progression and may take years.

The sad thing about fatal familial insomnia is that no therapy can cure the sickness. Insomnia can’t also be treated by any medications. People in the medical field are often out of answers when it comes to the cure of the disease and as why it has a fatal prognosis. However, it doesn’t stop the researchers to study the genetic composition of people with fatal familial insomnia and to come up with a cure.

The treatment for this sleeping disorder is greatly dependent on the medical researchers who dedicate their time to study and examine everything that is related to the disorder. Testing the genes of families with such disorder is also necessary to determine the commonalities in the structures and composition of their genes. The trends and occurrences of the disease is also studied to determine how it is passed on to the next generation.

Because fatal familial insomnia is very rare, the attention is not too focused on the condition itself unlike other sleeping disorders. This is also the reason why not all doctors would be able to handle such conditions and come up with the right diagnosis. More attention is given to various sleeping disorders that affect a greater population than this sleeping disorder that only affects a few.

With the progression of technology, people have faith that someday this sleeping disorder will be cured. However, as for the moment, the goal of care to patients suffering this condition is to improve the quality of life and provide all the comfort that they need.