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Cataplexy in MS

November 1, 2016

Cataplexy is defined as a sudden and transient episode of muscle weakness accompanied by full conscious awareness. This condition is usually triggered by emotions such as laughing or crying.

Cataplexy is known as a main symptom of narcolepsy which is a common sleep disorder in multiple sclerosis patients. Narcolepsy features excessive fatigue and daytime sleepiness. There is an increasing awareness among the scientific community that sleep disorders may be a vital contributing factor to fatigue in MS patients.

Cataplexy attacks manifest themselves as muscular weakness, which may range from a barely perceptible slack of facial muscles to a full blown muscle paralysis with postural collapse. Thankfully these attacks are known to be brief and subside without medical intervention, usually within a few minutes.

Sodium oxybate and gamma-hydroxybutyrate have been found to be effective at reducing the number of cataplexy episodes. People who know that they are susceptible to these attacks tend to avoid situations where they are likely to evoke strong emotions.