Alon Avidan, MD, MPH: Early Stage Identification of Narcolepsy

April 8, 2020

The Director of the Sleep Disorders Center and vice chair of the department of neurology at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine detailed how patients and physicians can be proactive in identifying narcolepsy.

“There is a huge problem in our society in that patients are being labeled in a certain way… They may receive inappropriate treatment that goes on for decades which is very problematic..”

Narcolepsy can oftentimes go untreated, mistreated, or treated so late after onset that the comorbidities and conditions associated with it can be worsened. In some cases, time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis can take up to 10 years.

Alon Avidan, MD, MPH, told NeurologyLive that it seems as though the education around narcolepsy needs to be improved on both the patient and physician perspectives in order to improve rates of earlier diagnosis. Avidan, who is director of the Sleep Disorders Center and vice chair of the department of neurology at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, mentioned that a number of conditions, such as laziness, attention deficit disorder, and depression, can be mistreated and confused with narcolepsy, thus compounding the problem.

In this interview, Avidan detailed why an effort to boost education can lead to a greater understanding of identifying symptoms and improving rates of early diagnosis, including the challenge of improper labels accompanying the condition.