Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fatal Familial Insomnia

This is probably by far one of the rarest forms of sleeping disorders around. This is an inherited disorder that has only been found in 28 families in the world that have the dominant gene for it. The offspring of a parent(s) of developing the disorder is about 50% and there is no cure for this.

The age of onset is around the ages between 30 and 60 and the disorder's time frame runs between 7 to 18 months. This disease has 4 stages that it goes through and 1st stage of the disease starts off with the sufferer dealing with increased insomnia leading to severe panic attacks, and various kinds of phobias, this stage lasts about 4 months, 2nd stage sufferer deals with hallucinations and panic attacks become more obvious and lasts about 5 months, 3rd stage Complete and total inability to sleep. And follows with drastic weight loss and lasts about 3 months, 4th stage Dementia sets in and progressively becoming irresponsive and mute over a course of 6 months and this is the final progression of the disease.

This sounds a lot like Alzheimer's because if you notice the time frame it's a lot less shorter than the actual time span of someone who deals with Alzheimer's because the sufferer is dealing with it for several years instead of a year where the disease progressively degenerates the mental capacity to such a degree that the sufferer has a hard time with memory.

As far as treatment is concerned sleeping pills don't have any effect for people suffering from Fatal Familial Insomnia and not even non-medicinal therapy doesn't work either. Medical science has no idea why it's a fatal disease and how they can create effective treatment options to combat this problem. And more effective genetic testing for diseases that are inherited to find out what can be done medicinally and therapeutically to deal with this sleeping disorder.

It's a matter of how much attention the medical world takes note of this and pushes the funding to finding a cure and effective genetic testing of families and tracking diseases through the generations to be able to have some kind of record of the disease passing down through generations or skipping generations which is what some diseases have done in some families for those who have a disposition for certain things.

This doesn't get nearly as much attention as all the other sleeping disorders because of it being rare, and only turning up in so many people and births making it not rare enough for it to get the recognition as regular insomnia and to qualify for the treatments. That are currently out there to help those 60 million people who are dealing with some kind of sleeping disorder(s).

With the way medical science is going it will be a matter of time before medical science catches up and helps the many people who are looking for a cure of being deprived of a restful night's sleep. The moment a cure is found is one more person who will be helped to have a good night's rest.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

anyone concerned or curious about fatal familial insomnia might be interested in a book i just published on the subject called The Family That Couldn't Sleep, the true story of an Italian family who have had the disease in their family for 200 years.