What is cataplexy in narcolepsy?

Updated: Sep 04, 2019
  • Author: Sagarika Nallu, MD; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Cataplexy is a brief and sudden loss of muscle tone and represents REM sleep intrusion during wakefulness. If severe and generalized, it may cause a fall. More subtle forms may cause only partial loss of tone (eg, head nod and knee buckling). Case reports of facial muscle involvement, especially in children with narcolepsy, have been reported. [45] Respiratory and extraocular movements are preserved. The most characteristic feature of cataplexy is that it usually is triggered by emotions (especially laughter and anger).

Cataplexy is seen in about 70% of patients with narcolepsy. Its presence in conjunction with EDS strongly suggests the diagnosis of narcolepsy.

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