Cataplexy is sudden muscle weakness triggered by strong emotions like embarrassment, laughter, surprise, or anger. Cataplexy can cause your head to drop, your face to droop, your jaw to weaken, or your knees to give way. Attacks can also affect your whole body and cause you to fall down.
Cataplexy is important to recognize because it occurs in very few other conditions. Not everybody with narcolepsy has cataplexy, but almost everybody with cataplexy has narcolepsy. So if you have cataplexy, you most likely have narcolepsy.
Cataplexy in children and adolescents
Cataplexy can be hard to recognize in children and adults. It can range from small muscle twitches to full body collapse. Cataplexy attacks in children are often most noticeable as odd facial movements, such as:
- Raised eyebrows
- Droopy eyelids or eyes closing
- Mouth opening or mouth movements
- Tongue sticking out
- Lip licking, biting, or chewing
- Slowed or slurred speech
Pediatric cataplexy is sometimes mistaken for other conditions that can have a sudden, uncontrollable, and unpredictable effect on the body, including:
- Movement disorders
- Other nervous system disorders that affect muscles
When your child is surprised or excited, does he or she show any of the effects of cataplexy?