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Kleine-Levin Syndrome: No Kiss Can Cure: the Curse of Sleeping Beauty Syndrome

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There are a lot of people who experience a dull and dragging semi-conscious state of almost dead awareness and the urge to take a nap because of sleep deprivation. However, there is a rare case of people who have primary hypersomnia, who needs to go through their daily activities while experiencing half-awake and never to have enough sleep to feel refreshed.

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Kleine-Levin Syndrome or also known as the Sleeping Beauty Syndrome is a condition that leaves the patient to stay in slumber for more than 20 hours. This syndrome is no match on the happy ending of a fairytale after receiving a kiss.

No kiss can cure the curse of this syndrome. Since there are only a few individuals who fully understand about KLS, below are the basic facts about KLS such as the symptoms, causes, and treatment.

The Symptoms of Kleine-Levin Syndrome

KLS is a rare sleep disorder that is most prevalent in teens. For patients who have this neurological disorder, they experience repeated periods of excessive sleep that comes with behavioral changes. Attack of episodes often happen abruptly, and then there are times that it shows flu symptoms.

Normal episodes of KLS usually last around 1-3 weeks. By the time that an episode attacks, the patient feels drowsy and would sleep most of the day and night. Patients will only wake up to eat or use the bathroom. In case they are in an episode, and they are awake, they will frequently be irritable and “out of it.”

Also, they show childlike behaviors, megaphagia, and sexual disinhibition. Usually, people who suffer from KLS will feel disoriented, confused, and completely lacks emotion and energy. Because of the dangers that KLS might bring to people, they can not perform any normal lifestyle such as working, going to school or caring for themselves especially during episodes. Most of them are tired, uncommunicative and bedridden.

During the time that attacks of the episode don’t happen, they are usually having a brief round of insomnia. Most account of KLS happens with teenage boys. There are situations that patients of KLS will take weeks, months and years before they start showing symptoms. On some occasions, the attack recurs suddenly. There is no specific explanation about the causes of KLS, but this disorder usually resolves as the year’s pass.

The occurrence of the episode becomes less severe and frequent to resolve in a patient’s early adulthood.

The Causes of Kleine-Levin Syndrome

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Up to this date, there is no explanation about the cause of Kleine-Levin syndrome. There are speculations that the symptoms had developed due to damage or malfunction to the hypothalamus which aids to regulate the function of appetite, body temperature and most importantly sleep.

Like other diseases that have no known cause, some researchers state that some of the symptoms develop because of an infectious disease or head injury that affected the hypothalamus but there is no basis to prove those claims. However, some cases say that Sleeping Beauty Syndrome’s development flows like the flu symptoms that usually directs to infections.

For the same reason, some researchers hypothesize that there is an autoimmune process that is happening behind that play a significant role in the development of the sleep disorder. Autoimmune disorders often happen when the body’s natural defenses against any foreign organism like antibodies begin to attack healthy tissue without any reasons.
According to the study conducted by Stanford University last 2005, 72% of the reported cases have symptoms of infection.  In sporadic cases, at least one family member is suffering from KLS or commonly known as Familial Kleine-Levin Syndrome.

These rare occasions and the likely role of infection in the development of KLS suggest that genetic factors can be a cause for some patients to have an inclination to develop the sleeping disorder.

The Diagnosis For Kleine-Levin Syndrome

Sleeping Beauty Syndrome

It is frankly a challenge to diagnose KLS. However, it can be a relief for people who are in search for answers. Mostly, the main symptom of KLS is hypersomnia which is a common symptom of various disorders. Doctors who diagnose KLS rules out other condition that have the same symptoms.

With this, those patients who potentially suffers KLS will undergo series of test in different specialties such as hypothyroidism, metabolic encephalopathies, and metabolic problems including diabetes. Doctors use MRI to remove out a tumor, inflammation or lesion as the cause, even for multiple sclerosis that involves aspects that can mock the symptoms of KLS.

Hyperphagia, withdrawal, and somnolence which are symptoms of KLS can mimic severe depression, occasionally followed by a sudden manic energy that may lead misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder. Due to various variables, all possibilities need exclusion, and the symptoms can still occur to those that are common in KLS patients.

Possible Treatments for Sleeping Beauty Syndrome

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Right now, there is no particular treatment for KLS. However, as advised, waiting is better than pharmacotherapy. Stimulant pills such as methylphenidate, amphetamines, and modafinil, are medicines to treat sleepiness but it can increase irritability and will not cure any cognitive abnormalities. Since there is a similarity between particular mood disorders and KLS, doctors prescribe carbamazepine and lithium that will try and prevent any further episodes.

The disease is different from other cyclic recurrences of sleepiness during puberty stage of teenaged girls, which birth control pills can control. This disease is different from recurrent depression, psychosis, and encephalopathy.

Takeaway

Sleeping Beauty Syndrome is unique compared to the famous fairytale of Aurora and the kiss of her prince. This sleeping disorder is a curse that affects the life of the sufferer. With life having various mysteries, this sleeping disorder no different than those mysteries. KLS is a rare case that happens to teenaged boys and is capable of destroying their potential in living a normal life.

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