Will COVID-19 Cause More Cases of Narcolepsy?
If you’ve been a resident of our world since the year 2020, you might be aware of the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has resulted in the deaths of large numbers of people and has left many others to deal with long-term effects.
According to the Journal of Neurology, the immune response to COVID-19 may result in the triggering of autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders. Scientists add that in particular, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and narcolepsy “present several pathogenic mechanisms that can be hypothetically initiated by SARS-CoV2 infection in susceptible individuals."1
In other words, it is entirely possible that those with genetic predispositions to narcolepsy find that their bout with COVID-19 triggers an onset of narcolepsy symptoms.
Recalling my own symptom onset
My narcolepsy symptoms onset after I had a bad case of the flu while in college. I have since been terrified of contracting any bug. Knowing that COVID-19 has the possibility to trigger narcolepsy in otherwise “normal” people is difficult to grasp. It just reminds me of how important it is to keep the disease from spreading to individuals that it might be able to permanently harm.
We’ve previously assumed that these at-risk populations are older people, but it turns out that otherwise “normal” people may find themselves chronically ill after contracting COVID-19.
If others knew the risk
What can we actually do with this knowledge? There has been a lot of backlash that mask mandates have sparked in the United States. Unfortunately, protecting at-risk people’s safety is not motivating to them in the slightest.
I wonder if people knew that they could end up with permanent disabilities due to COVID-19, whether they would choose to obey COVID-19 safety standards to protect themselves at the very least.
When will we know the impact?
Since narcolepsy often goes undiagnosed for years, it may take ages before narcolepsy cases rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this moment, we do not have studies to fully answer our questions about how much the pandemic will affect narcolepsy cases.
It is entirely possible that narcolepsy cases will increase after the pandemic. The best we can do is try to keep each other and ourselves safe during this trying time.
Doing the best we can
As for me, I will be wearing my personal protection equipment in the form of masks in public. I will continue to wash my hands regularly, especially after returning home. I will maintain a 6-foot distance away from others who are not in my household. I will finish getting my COVID-19 vaccine. I have my appointment for my second Moderna COVID-19 vaccination in a few days, and I am relieved.
While we cannot change the tragedies that have occurred due to COVID-19, we can reduce the number of tragedies to come just through a few simple actions. I wish luck to anyone suffering from chronic illness following their contraction of COVID-19. You are not alone. There are many communities full of people ready to support you through this life change. Stay safe and stay healthy, everyone!
Where are you in your narcolepsy diagnosis journey?