Welcome to CME on ReachMD. This episode is part of our MinuteCME curriculum.
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This is CME on ReachMD, and I’m Dr. Michael Thorpy. Here with me today is Dr. Anne Marie Morse.
Narcolepsy places a major burden on the patient’s quality of life. There are many quality-of-life issues that can occur in patients with narcolepsy. Anne, can you tell us a bit about those quality-of-life issues and how the symptoms of narcolepsy would cause those quality-of-life issues? And how can we help patients with these problems?
Quality-of-life issues for individuals with narcolepsy is definitely a common problem. Unfortunately, we sometimes fail to address some of these issues that the patient may be worried about. When we look at the socioeconomic burden and the quality-of-life factors that occur for individuals with narcolepsy, it very frequently rivals the same disability experienced by individuals with other chronic medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Some factors to be considerate of include difficulties in socializing, the ability to drive and maintain safe driving, difficulties with school performance or work performance, cognitive issues such as brain fog and memory difficulties, and then just overall decreased quality of life. When examined, these factors are really quite burdensome, and in fact, there’s been recent studies that have demonstrated factors such as decreased marriage rates and difficulties in being able to attend school or work and perform at the highest level of their abilities. When we look at overall academic achievement and earnings, individuals with narcolepsy very frequently may have less than what their age-matched peers would. In order to have a better understanding of these things, we really do need to ask our patients these questions and recognize that these are also manifestations of the symptoms of narcolepsy. It isn’t uncommon that symptoms like excessive daytime sleepiness are impairing people from having their optimal ability to perform these tasks on a day-to-day basis. However, the other features of narcolepsy sometimes can also influence the overall quality of life, such as disturbed nocturnal sleep interfering with their perception of good quality nighttime sleep or some of the other REM-dissociative features that they may experience.
So there’s a tendency in narcolepsy for people to just concentrate on the main symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy. However, as you have indicated, Anne, the quality-of-life issues are really major in these patients and can affect every aspect of their daily activities, not only in children with regards to their education and socializing, but also in adults with their work, and that the memory and concentration problems and brain fog that they experience interfere with their everyday activities. So narcolepsy really is a major disorder that affects the whole quality of life in patients, so it’s important that we ask questions about these features – not just about the primary symptoms, but about how those symptoms are affecting the patient.
Well, this has been a great bite-sized discussion. Unfortunately, our time is up. Thanks for listening.
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