There are many different sleep disorders out there and some of those come with horrible consequences. These rare diseases can cause lifelong harm with several that can even cause death. One sleep disease that always ends in death is the very rare disorder of fatal familial insomnia. This disease is a genetic mutation that has been known to occur in families. The disease always ends in death with a survival rate of no longer than 18 months after diagnosis, very few people have lived past the year mark.
Signs and Symptoms of Fatal Familial Insomnia
In general the common age in which fatal familial insomnia strikes is between 18 to 60 with the majority of people diagnosed being close to the age of fifty. The disease can also appear sometimes after giving birth to children. The symptoms can vary from person to person depending on what stage they are in. In stage one the patient usually suffers from panic attacks, paranoia, phobias, and insomnia.
This first stage usually lasts about four months. The next phase increases the panic attacks and hallucinations which generally last for about five months. In the third phase of fatal familial insomnia the insomnia increases and rapid weight loss begins. This phase generally lasts three months. In the final progress of the disease the brain shows signs of dementia and the patient generally becoming unresponsive. Death generally occurs in six months after the onset of the dementia symptoms. The disease is usually identified after genetic testing.
Treatment of Fatal Familial Insomnia
Unfortunately there are no known treatments for fatal familial insomnia. In the first stages medication to aid in sleeping can be taken in order to see if it would help alleviate some of the symptoms. In many cases anti anxiety medications are given as well as pain relievers but most people still do not get any sleep whatever. In one case a man was heavily sedated with medication to put him into an induced coma only to find out that the brain did not shut down and therefore sleep was never achieved.
If it is suspected you have fatal familial insomnia your doctor will run a series of different tests to determine whether or not you are affected with the disease. The disease is extremely rare but more research is being done to make sure that there can possibly be a treatment for this deadly disorder in the future.