The Dangers of Fatal Familial Insomnia
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The Dangers of Fatal Familial Insomnia

Information about the prion disease Fatal Familial Insomnia.

Fatal Familial Insomnia is an incredibly rare and lethal disease which is passed on genetically. In most cases, the disease is caused by a mutation of a particular protein, and is passed on through family lines. The mutated protein (known as PrPSc) has been found in just 40 families worldwide, affecting just about one hundred people with Fatal Familial Insomnia. The disease is entirely untreatable, and results in a slow agonising death for the sufferer as they suffer from more extreme bouts of sleeplessness as the condition gets worse. Most cases of Fatal Familial Insomnia occur naturally as a result of the mutated protein being passed down, however a form of the disease known as Sporadic Fatal Insomnia also exists where the patient spontaneously suffers from the affliction without the mutated protein.

Fatal Familial Insomnia typically begins to show symptoms between the ages of 36 to 60, though the averaage age of occurrance is 50 and the disease seems to most often appear in the later years. The presentation of the disease and the age at which it begins can vary massively between people, even between people in the same family. The disease has four identifiable stages, and these are spread over a time ranging from 7 months to 18 months. However, there have been cases where the condition can last even longer, even up to 36 months before death.

In the beginning stages of Fatal Familial Insomnia, the patient begins to suffer from increasing levels of insomnia. This can lead to panic attacks, spontaneous phobias and even cases of paranoia. This stage typically lasts about four months before moving onto the second stage. During the second stage, hallucinations become obvious and excessive. The patient is aware of the hallucinations and begins to suffer more serious panic attacks in a stage which lasts approximately five months.

The third stage of Fatal Familial Insomnia results in the complete inability to sleep. Even microsleeps do not occur, which prevents the brain from being able to repair itself to any degree. This also results in a massive loss of weight over the course of the next three months. The final stage of fatal familial insomnia is Dementia. The patient becomes completely non responsive and mute over the course of six months, after which the patient dies.

There is no cure for Fatal Familial Insomnia, and sleeping pills and medication have been proven to actually accelerate the development of the disease. The best doctors can do is alleviate the symptoms to provide the patient a better quality of life in their final days.

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