UK scientist with rare condition collapses every time she feels a strong emotion

November 4th, 2010 - 2:30 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Nov 4 (ANI): For most of us, laughter is a happy part of life, but for a UK scientist, it can trigger an extraordinary reaction in which she falls into a trance-like state unable to see or move.

A good chuckle is, unfortunately, the strongest trigger, but she also reacts to everyday feelings such as fear, anger, joy or surprise.Claire Allen, from Cambridge, collapses every time she feels a strong emotion. Each episode can last anywhere between 30 seconds to five minutes.

She has a rare symptom of narcolepsy, which strikes during such simple scenarios as finding a chair has unexpectedly been moved, visiting family or shopping.

Without treatment, she can suffer up to 100 episodes every day, and her each extraordinary reaction can last between 30 seconds and five minutes.

“The attacks are caused by any emotional surprise or shock but laughter is definitely the strongest trigger,” the Daily Mail quoted Allen as saying.

She becomes temporarily paralyzed during episodes, but is conscious throughout.

“A few years ago, I stopped all my medications for a trial and I discovered the true extent of my symptoms - around 100 collapses a day. They happen more often during social contact, perhaps as I’m more self-conscious. There is no pain but my speech will go, followed by my vision. Then my body crumples,” she added.

She was diagnosed with cataplexy, or sudden loss of muscle tone, in 2005. But, now, she enjoys a more normal life after taking a new drug, Xyrem, which has cut the attacks to a few each month. (ANI)

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