Article Source: Mayo Clinic…
Narcolepsy Treatments and Drugs
There is no cure for narcolepsy, but medications and lifestyle modifications can help you manage the symptoms. Medications include:
- Stimulants. Drugs that stimulate the central nervous system are the primary treatment to help people with narcolepsy stay awake during the day. Modafinil (Provigil), a newer stimulant, isn’t as addictive and doesn’t produce the highs and lows often associated with older stimulants. Some people need treatment with methylphenidate (Ritalin) or various amphetamines. Although these medications are effective, they may cause side effects, such as nervousness and heart palpitations, and can be addictive.
- Antidepressants. Doctors often prescribe antidepressant medications, which suppress REM sleep, to help alleviate the symptoms of cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucinations and sleep paralysis. These medications include tricyclic antidepressants such as protriptyline (Vivactil) and imipramine (Tofranil) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem) and sertraline (Zoloft).
- Sodium oxybate (Xyrem). This medication controls cataplexy in people with narcolepsy. Sodium oxybate helps to improve nighttime sleep, which is often poor in narcolepsy. In high doses it may also help control daytime sleepiness, even though you take it only at night. However, because the use of this drug has been associated with serious side effects, such as trouble breathing during sleep, sleepwalking and bed-wetting, it’s strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
If you have other health problems, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, ask your doctor how medications for existing conditions may interact with those taken for narcolepsy.
Certain over-the-counter drugs, such as allergy and cold medications, can cause drowsiness as a side effect. If you have narcolepsy, your doctor will likely recommend that you avoid taking these medications.
Medications to treat narcolepsy can help reduce your signs and symptoms, but they can’t alleviate them entirely. Lifestyle changes also are an integral part of treating narcolepsy.
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