In recent years there has been an influx in children being diagnosed with narcolepsy after receiving the Pandemrix vaccine during the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and 2010. The Irish Government made an agreement with the manufacturers of the swine flu vaccines that they would carry the legal risks in the event of patients experiencing any vaccine related harm such as developing narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy claims can be emotionally difficult for family members and quite complex. Which is why it is important that you speak with a medical negligence solicitor as soon as you can. They will help you determine if you have a case.
What is Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a neurological condition that impacts the ability to regulate normal sleep patterns.
It is a sleep disorder that can make it hard to stay awake for long periods of time causing people to feel drowsy during the day and be prone to falling asleep suddenly.
The exact cause for Narcolepsy is not known, it is associated with a deficiency of a chemical called hypocretin also known as orexin that regulates wakefulness and REM sleep.
There is no cure for narcolepsy, it is a life-long condition. But there is medication and lifestyle adjustments that can help manage the symptoms to minimize their impact on daily life.
Types of Narcolepsy
There are two main types of Narcolepsy which are type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 is known as narcolepsy with cataplexy, which is identified as a sudden weakness in muscle tone that cannot be controlled which is triggered by strong emotions such as laughter, anger, and shock. People diagnosed with type 1 narcolepsy often have low levels of the brain hormone hypocretin with an 85% to 95% reduction in the number of neurons that produce hypocretin. Not having enough orexins results in the body having a hard time staying alert and awake.
Type 2 is known as narcolepsy without cataplexy, people do not usually experience a loss of muscle control. People diagnosed with type 2 narcolepsy typically have normal levels of hypocretin and less severe symptoms.
Not every individual that has type 1 or type 2 narcolepsy experiences the same symptoms.
1. Excessive sleepiness during daytime.
Sudden attacks of sleep are common for people with narcolepsy and may happen at any time. The length of time a sleep attack lasts for everyone will vary; some people may only have ‘microsleeps’ lasting seconds compared to others who may fall asleep for longer episodes of several minutes.
2. Sudden loss of muscle tone.
This is known as cataplexy and it can cause without warning slurred speech or complete weakness of muscles, these symptoms can last minutes.
3.Changes to REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.
Sleep is made up of different types of brain activity known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). Normal sleep typically starts with NREM sleep followed by a short period of REM sleep where your brain activity increases, and you might dream which can be commonly known as active sleep.
People with narcolepsy tend to enter REM sleep more quickly and transition in and out of REM sleep more often than individuals without narcolepsy. These transitions in and out of REM sleep are a reason why people with narcolepsy can suddenly fall asleep without warning.
Other symptoms include:
- Sleep paralysis
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Problems with memory
It is important to note that all individuals with Narcolepsy will not experience every symptom mentioned above, and the severity of symptoms can also vary. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help to accurately diagnose and manage narcolepsy.
Common Causes of Narcolepsy
- Genetic history
- Autoimmune disorders
- Injury to the brain
- The flu vaccine Pandemrix
- Hormonal changes that occur for example during puberty or menopause.
- Sudden change in sleep patterns
- An infection such as a streptococcal infection or swine flu.
At Tracey Solicitors LLP, our dedicated medical negligence solicitors have years of experience in helping people deal with traumatic medical injury claims. We understand the injuries, both physically and emotionally, that you have suffered and have supported and helped many people in similar situations proceed with medical negligence claims in Ireland over the past 30 years.
Government Intervention Regarding Manufacturing Vaccines
The Irish Government made an agreement with the manufacturers of the swine flu vaccines that they would carry the legal risks in the event of patients experiencing any vaccine related harm such as developing narcolepsy.
The Irish Government reached an agreement with the swine flu vaccine manufacturers, that the government would take on the responsibility for legal risks if any patients were to suffer vaccine-related harm, such as developing narcolepsy.
The Irish Government and the manufacturers of the swine flu vaccines reached an agreement, where the Irish Government would take responsibility for any legal risks if patients were to suffer vaccine-related harm, such as developing narcolepsy.
The manufacturers of swine flu vaccines and the Irish Government entered into an agreement, wherein the government assumed liability for any legal risks arising from vaccine-related harm, such as the development of narcolepsy in patients.