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Welcome, medical contents search April 25, 2013
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Night Terrors

more about Night Terrors

Pavor nocturnus

  • A severe fright reaction, mostly in preschool children, occurring during deep stages of sleep
  • The child is quite difficult to waken from the night terror, due to Stage IV sleep.
  • The awakened child usually has no memory of the night terror, in contradistinction to a nightmare.
  • Thought by some authorities to be a normal developmental behavioral condition and not a disease state
  • Worsens at times of physical illness or emotional distress.

  • A sleeping child cries out with extreme fear while asleep; an extremely loud scream; and is noted to have marked tachycardia; tachypnea; and moving about in bed.
  • Mental confusion if forcefully awakened, and usually does not recall the episode

  • Unknown

  • The patient matches the description and symptoms above.  There is no definitive way to diagnose night terrors.

  • None known, but the same patients who have sleepwalking, may also have night terrors.

  • Reassurance to the child that he or she is in a safe environment.
  • Minimize the risk that the child will fall out of bed.
  • If the night terror occurs at the same time each night, awakening the child shortly before that hour might avert an episode.
  • Medications are not a proven safe and effective treatment for night terrors.

  • None known, but possibly is followed by other behavioral disturbance in later years.

  • If the condition persists, consult a physician.

  • Nightmares
  • Sleepwalking (somnambulism) would be another disorder occurring during deep sleep, but the symptoms are, of course, different.

more about Night Terrors

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