I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy by a procedure known as EEG (electroencephalogram) which seems to be a pocket friendly test in a government institution, Kenyatta National Hospital in 2007, it was the only government facility with the machine. Enough about me, on average it takes 10 years from onset of symptoms to an official diagnosis of narcolepsy and visits to approximately 6 different specialists. Prior to diagnosis, it is not uncommon for people to be misdiagnosed with other sleep disorders, depression, psychiatric conditions, ADHD and even epilepsy.
Narcolepsy can usually be diagnosed by observing how you sleep and ruling out other conditions. If you have narcolepsy, you will usually fall asleep easily and enter rapid eye movement (REM) sleep very quickly.
EEG monitors brain waves, a specialist will analyse your test results to determine whether you have normal brain wave activity, breathing patterns, and muscle and eye movement. Read more about EEG
Other tests that are carried out in other parts of the world to diagnose narcolepsy are:
- Diagnostic Screening – When you visit your doctor, he or she will ask for a detailed sleep history. The doctor may request that you fill out the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (or other sleepiness rating tools), which uses a series of short questions to gauge your degree of sleepiness. You will provide a score, based on a numbered scale, how likely it is that you would doze off in specific situations.
If your doctor suspects narcolepsy, he or she will most likely recommend sleep studies. These sleep studies usually consist of Polysomnogram (PSG), which is an overnight stay in a sleep laboratory, followed the next day by the Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT).
The Epworth sleepiness scale (PDF, 64kb) is a questionnaire used to assess how likely you are to fall asleep while undertaking different activities.
- Polysomnography (PSG) – Polysomnography is an investigation of your sleep carried out at a specialist sleep centre. The study usually involves staying overnight at the sleep centre so your sleeping patterns can be analysed.
- Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) – test measures how long it takes for you to fall asleep during the day.
- Other Tests
Today I refer anyone who suspects they might be having Narcolepsy to Dr. Njenga who assists to rule out any underlying conditions and refers the patient to the correct physician.
Sources: www.wakeupnarcolepsy.org/about/diagnosis/ | www.nhs.uk/conditions/narcolepsy/diagnosis/