Hazards Of Narcolepsy
People who have narcolepsy but don't know it represent a serious safety hazard to themselves and others when they drive. They may doze off while waiting for a traffic signal to change, or they may drive to destination and be completely unable to recall how they got there. At least one in every 500 drivers is estimated to be suffering from narcolepsy. Many of them get involved in fatal traffic accidents.
Individuals with excessive daytime sleepiness are at a much greater risk than normal for motor vehicle accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel. If you have narcolepsy, refrain from driving long distances. Stop driving immediately when sleepy.
Yet, narcolepsy is a major traffic safety problem with a low-cost and easy solution: proper diagnosis and medical care. Diagnosed patients who understand their symptoms appear to be very safe drivers, and their driving can be coordinated with the use of medication. Some people can sense the imminent sleepiness. Others don't. If you are able to adequately sense sleepiness, you can drive safely provided you immediately pull over and take a nap when sleepy or turn over the wheel to someone else. Those who cannot predict or sense sleepiness or who are unwilling to avoid driving when sleepy should not drive. Persons with cataplexy can potentially experience cataplectic episodes while driving. They must refrain from driving until the cataplexy has been adequately medically treated.
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