What is Kleine-Levin Syndrome?
Kleine-Levin syndrome, also known as Sleeping Beauty Disorder, is a rare disorder characterized by episodes of excessive sleep and cognitive and behavioral changes. Those affected may have episodes in which they sleep up to 20 hours a day, with episodes lasting anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The amount of time between episodes varies from person to person. Adolescent males are primarily affected by Kleine-Levin syndrome, but anyone can have this disorder.
What are the symptoms of Kleine-Levin Syndrome?
Symptoms of this disorder present themselves only during episodes, which are often preceded by respiratory infections. Along with excessive sleep, those with Kleine-Levin syndrome also experience abnormal behavior like excessive eating, irritability, childishness, disorientation, hallucinations, and an abnormal sex drive. Episodes tend to decrease with age.
Like many other rare diseases, symptoms vary from person to person. Problems with mood, such as depression, are possible. Issues with memory may also occur, as people may not remember what happened during an episode.
What causes Kleine-Levin Syndrome?
The cause of this disorder is unknown. Healthcare professionals suspect that it originates from a malfunction or damage to the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that regulates sleep, appetite, and body temperature. It is also thought to possibly be linked to a head injury or an infectious disease that affects the hypothalamus.
Researchers have also suspected an autoimmune disorders as the cause due to cases of Kleine-Levin syndrome that see the development of symptoms coincide with flu-like symptoms. Some researchers believe that there is a genetic component of the disorder as well.
How is Kleine-Levin Syndrome diagnosed?
The diagnosis for this syndrome is difficult, as the main symptom is common to multiple conditions, such as narcolepsy. Exclusion of other conditions is the first step towards a diagnosis. Many tests can be performed, such as tests to rule out diseases for diabetes, hypothyroidisms, lesions, tumors, inflammation, or even multiple sclerosis. Symptoms can also point to bipolar disorder, as Kleine-Levin syndrome is also characterized by episodes followed by highs.
What are the treatments for Kleine-Levin Syndrome
There is no cure for this disorder. Treatment is symptomatic, as there are medications that can help to manage the effects. Stimulants are used to combat excessive sleeping, and there are medications meant for bipolar disorders that can shorten episodes. Healthcare professionals advise of knowing all of the symptoms of the disease and ensuring that those close to one know as well so that there is preparation for an episode.