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Statistics on narcolepsy indicate that the disorder could affect as many as 200,000 Americans, although fewer than 50,000 are diagnosed. About 8 to 12 percent of people with narcolepsy have a close relative with the disease. Worldwide statistics on narcolepsy reveal that occurrence rates vary throughout the world.

Statistics on Narcolepsy: Totals

It is estimated that narcolepsy affects as many as 200,000 Americans, although fewer than 50,000 are diagnosed. Narcolepsy is as widespread as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis (MS) and more common than cystic fibrosis, but it is not as well known. Narcolepsy is often mistaken for depression, epilepsy, or the side effects of medications.

Statistics on Narcolepsy and Worldwide Occurrence

Narcolepsy appears throughout the world in every racial and ethnic group. But occurrence rates vary among populations. Compared to the U.S. population, for example, the occurrence rate of narcolepsy is substantially lower in Israel (about one case for every 500,000 people living in the country) and considerably higher in Japan (about one case for every 600 people).

Statistics on Narcolepsy and Who It Affects

Narcolepsy affects both men and women at any age, although narcolepsy symptoms are usually first noticed in teenagers or young adults. Many people with narcolepsy first experience symptoms between the ages of 35 and 45. A smaller number people develop narcolepsy around the ages of 50 to 55. Narcolepsy can also develop early in life, probably more frequently than is generally recognized. For example, 3-year-old children have been diagnosed with narcolepsy.

Statistics on Narcolepsy Symptoms

Only about 20 to 25 percent of people with narcolepsy experience all four symptoms.
Whatever the age of onset, people with narcolepsy find that their narcolepsy symptoms tend to get worse over the two to three decades after the first symptoms appear. Many older patients find that some daytime symptoms of narcolepsy decrease in severity after age 60.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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