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Narcolepsy
Nasal Polyps
Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

 

Narcolepsy
Other names: Daytime sleep disorder, daytime sleepiness

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that affects control of sleep and is usually characterized by daytime sleepiness in which one feels that she has not had any sleep for several days. An estimated 250,000 people in the US are affected by narcolepsy. Most often the disease is diagnosed during the teens or 20s.

Those with narcolepsy may fall asleep suddenly – any place and any time. The sleep attack may last just a few minutes or several hours and vary in frequency. The cause of this condition is not known, but researchers have identified the gene that causes narcolepsy. This gene works with the part of the brain that regulates sleep, and when the gene does not function properly, abnormal sleep patterns develop. Symptoms include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Sleep attacks
  • Depression
  • Loss of muscle control that results in a collapse after a surge of emotion such as laughter or anger
  • Hallucinations at the beginning or end of a sleep attack
  • Temporary paralysis at the beginning or end of a sleep attack
  • Disturbed nighttime sleep

Narcolepsy is often misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, epilepsy or multiple sclerosis. Although the diagnosis may be made based on descriptions of sleep attacks alone in extreme cases, an accurate diagnosis requires an overnight sleep study with an EEG, which measures brainwaves. Another test that measures how quickly rapid eye movement occurs may also be required, since people with narcolepsy often fall asleep much more quickly than others.

A cure for narcolepsy does not exist, but effective treatment methods are available to help manage the disease. Treatment usually involves prescription medications to reduce symptoms and suppress frightening episodes of physical collapse that may last anywhere from a few seconds to half an hour. A regular plan of strict bedtimes and daytime naps also is required to reduce unexpected attacks.

Narcolepsy is a life-long condition, but most of those who suffer from the condition live near-normal lifestyles with appropriate medication and support from teachers, employers, friends and family members.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Nasal Polyps
Nasal polyps are small, grape-shaped growths that can develop in the nasal cavity and can cause sinusitis. These polyps may block the nasal airway, making it difficult to breath through the nose, or block the sinus cavities, leading to poor drainage and possible infections.

Nasal polyps are caused by inflammation within the nose and sinuses that may be caused by either allergic or non-allergic factors. Regardless, nasal polyps are frustrating and can make people feel like they have one long, continuous cold. Symptoms of nasal polyps include:

  • Decreased sense of smell
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Frequent sinus infections
  • Profuse nasal drainage
  • Facial pain
  • Headache
  • Chronic cough

In some cases, nasal polyps can be seen during a nasal exam with a special instrument. Generally, they are present on both sides of the nose. A CT scan may be ordered to determine the severity of the condition. If polyps only appear on one side, your physician may order a biopsy to determine if they are cancerous.

Treatment of nasal polyps will depend on the severity of the condition and your overall health. Long-term drug therapy may be recommended to reduce the size of the polyps and to prevent further growth, or surgery may be recommended to remove the polyps.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system, which filters the blood to help fight infection and disease. The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, tonsils and bone marrow. There are two types of lymphomas – Hodgkin’s disease (which is named after Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, who first recognized it in 1932) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Non-hodgkin's lymphomas are cancers of the lymph nodes, spleen, and other organs of the immune system. They can be slow-growing or rapidly-growing cancers. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas tend to occur among those who are between the ages of 40 and 70. Symptoms may include:

  • Unexplained fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

A variety of tests may be conducted during the diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma including a blood smear or biopsy of affected tissue or bone marrow.

Treatment is based on various factors including the stage of the disease, symptoms and general health of the patient. Frequently, treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and possibly a bone marrow transplant. Medical research has led to real progress with this disease, increasing survival rates and quality of life for those diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)