The European Medicine Agency (EMA) has been investigating reports that suggested there may be a connection between the Pandemrix vaccine used in 2009 for H1N1 influenza protection and the higher incidences of Narcolepsy that followed.
The agency said they have not found any linkage yet … but that it is a complex situation and they need another 3 to 6 months to examine the possibilities.
A person suffering from Narcolepsy can fall asleep at any time with no warning, so it has far more implications than a regular sleep disorder where a person may have trouble getting sufficient sleep and becomes too tired to function. Narcolepsy is a chronic problem with the brain that displays an inability to control normal sleep and awake cycles.
The European Medicine Agency (EMA) has had over 80 reports submitted to it from various European countries where the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix made by British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has been used since 2009. The reports were submitted by health care professionals who suggested there might be a link to the vaccine for their patients ranging in age from 4 to 52.
The EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) issued a statement saying, “The committee concluded that the available evidence was insufficient to determine whether there is any link between Pandemrix and reports of Narcolepsy, and that further studies were necessary to fully understand this issue”.
In a person suffering from Narcolepsy the REM sleep or deep sleep cycle that occurs in most people after they’ve been asleep for a period of time, happens all of a sudden. They go from a fully conscious state into a deep REM sleep in a matter of seconds. It can last for a few minutes to an hour or more.
It is a very dangerous and debilitating form of sleep because the person could be driving a car or operating a machine and just nod off. There’s even cases where people have fallen to sleep while having sex. Not all women that have had that happen would likely agree though that their partner was Narcoleptic.
Narcolepsy consists of more things than just a person falling to sleep involuntarily. They can experience muscle weakness while awake. A condition called cataplexy, which can also be an indicator for an upcoming sleep attack. They can experience nightmares while falling to sleep … even muscle paralysis.
The disease is hard to diagnose and the patient must undergo testing at a sleep clinic to examine their sleep cycles and REM sleep patterns. There is no cure. Changes in lifestyle and certain medications can relieve or reduce symptoms in some people depending on the severity.