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Sleep Disorders: Sleep Apnea and Narcolepsy

ANTHONY KALES, M.D.; ANTONIO VELA-BUENO, M.D.; and JOYCE D. KALES, M.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Anthony Kales, M.D.; Sleep Research and Treatment Center, Hershey Medical Center; Hershey, PA 17033.


Hershey, Pennsylvania


© 1987 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1987;106(3):434-443. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-106-3-434
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Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially lifethreatening disorder, include excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep attacks, nocturnal breath cessation, and snorting and gasping sounds. These symptoms usually become manifest before age 40 and cluster within a few years. Most patients are obese, hypertensive men who eventually develop cardiovascular abnormalities. If sleep apnea is suspected based on clinical information, a sleep laboratory evaluation is indicated. For severe obstructive sleep apnea, tracheostomy is the most effective treatment. Narcolepsy, another sleep disorder, is a life-long and usually disabling condition. In most narcoleptic patients the first symptoms develop during childhood or adolescence, yet many years pass before the proper diagnosis is made. The presence of sleep attacks together with auxiliary symptoms, particularly cataplexy, is diagnostic. Treatment of narcolepsy includes stimulants in combination with therapeutic naps for sleep attacks and tricyclic drugs for cataplexy.

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