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South Med J. 2009 Dec;102(12):1246-52. doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e3181bc6e39.

Narcolepsy: clinical decision making for the primary care physician.

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  • 1Division of Neurology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Narcolepsy is a serious neurological condition in which patients are overcome by persistent, excessive feelings of fatigue and drowsiness. In addition to chronic fatigue, patients with narcolepsy often succumb to intermittent, uncontrollable periods where they abruptly fall asleep during waking hours. In addition to episodic bouts of daytime sleeping, narcoleptics also exhibit cataplexy, sleep paralysis, and hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. Unfortunately, many individuals with narcolepsy remain undiagnosed and therefore, untreated, posing a risk to themselves and those around them. There is currently no cure for this lifelong disease. Nonetheless, narcolepsy can be effectively managed with medications, lifestyle changes, and the peripheral support of individuals such as family members, coworkers, and other casual relations.

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