What is hyperekplexia?

Hyperekplexia, also known as startle syndrome, is a rare neurological disorder characterized by exaggerated involuntary responses to sudden stimuli. In simpler terms, it’s like having an excessively jumpy body that reacts even to the slightest of movements or sounds.

This condition can affect people from all walks of life and while it may be difficult for someone who doesn’t have hyperekplexia to understand what it’s like living with this disorder, I assure you – it isn’t easy! In this article, we’ll delve deeper into understanding what exactly hyperekplexia entails so hang on tight…


The most distinctive symptom of hyperekplexia is muscle stiffness and exaggerated reflexes in response to stimuli such as noise or touch. These abnormal reactions are commonly seen in infancy and continue throughout adulthood.

Imagine walking down a quiet street when suddenly a car backfires… your whole body tenses up uncontrollably before returning to normalcy after explicit seconds. This hyper-exaggerated startle reflex experienced by individuals with hyperekplexia occurs without warning and can cause falls leading to injury.

Other symptoms include:

  • Startling-induced fainting
  • Difficulty moving limbs
  • Stiffness/rigidity when trying to move
  • Urinary incontinence due to muscle tension
  • Speech disturbances (dysarthria)

As you might imagine just reading about these conditions; Imagine having them firsthand? That’s where things get tricky!


Hyperekplexia stems from genetic mutations affecting proteins involved with neurotransmitter signaling between neurons1. Essentially high-stress levels lead the brain sending inaccurate signals which then reinforces these rigidities into their responses leading them becoming chronic unfortunately resulting ultimately in physical impairments.

A mutation that reduces GABA production – one of the major inhibitory neurotransmitters within our brains leads patients hypersensitive fright-filled moments leading to an increase in tension and stiffness leading the body to react easily[citation needed].

Genetic Inheritance

Hikerplexia is a hereditary neurological condition that runs within families from being passed down through the different genes of relatives. There are two types, with one (hyperekplexia type 1) inherited in an autosomal dominant manner, this means you’ve got approximately 50% chance of inheriting if your parent has it. Hyperekplexia can occur at any age but those who inherit hyperekplexia will often show symptoms present since birth or not long after as described2.


There’s no shortcut way to diagnose hypereklexia; a thorough physical examination by qualified medical practitioners must be conducted because other conditions share similar symptoms which may include Parkinsonisms or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Medical imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging(MRI), Computerized axial tomography scans(CAT Scans), genetic testing among others might help refine diagnosis.

A doctor will mostly ask questions regarding:

  • past medical history
  • family history of neurological disorders
  • Current medication postulations
  • signs/symptoms experienced that led them seeking treatment.

Note: Don’t get discouraged during this process – getting a proper diagnosis is crucial early on for effective management.

Treatment & Management

The severity and impact on daily living depends entirely upon how chronic episodes become, thankfully there are ways available to manage these occurrences:


Hyperteklevias lack inhibitor mediations releasing: clonazepam, diazepam or carbamazepine can have muscle relaxant abilities calming extensiveness thus resulting lesser exaggerated reactions overall 3[^4]

Stress Reduction Techniques

Yoga/meditation may prove helpful in reducing stress levels related to tense moments often allowing enough time between sessions keep muscles calm helping when body reaction startles.4

Some additional measure that patients can take in managing hyperekplexia and easing symptoms into manageable workflows range from:

  • Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine
  • Noticing triggers (or with the help of a medical professional)
  • Reducing their level of distress

This disorder is permanent, and management comprises replacement therapies to clamp electrical signalling deficiencies between neurons.


All in all, Hyperekplexia isn’t a walk in the park! No one wants to experience situations where something tricky leads them stumbling down like palisade. Since Cures aren’t available yet, we focus on optimal symptom-management for the highest quality-of-life possible. Although there won’t be further dramatic improvements beyond current capabilities getting diagnosed by seeking out treatment options will get you equipped with tools needed!

Knowledge about hyperekplexia hopefully helps remedy misconceptions around people who have responded differently to nervous stimuli than most individuals without placing judgments-in place!

Stay alert and informed; prevention within awareness drives safety into brighter tomorrows.#peaceout✌️

  1. James M. Newton, John Winkelman,Ronald D Pedersen : Startle Syndrome or Hyperekplexia: Still More Questions Than Answers The Neurologist 2002 8(3):141–145 [PMID: 12803602] 

  2. The Epilepsy Foundation.hyp.kyphoscoliosis syndrome.Acessed November13th2021 https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-seizures/myoclonus/hyperekplexia 

  3. Al Khathaami AA : Efficacy of Clonazepam Therapy in Patients with Hyperteklevias . Int J Family Med 2015 Article ID 535439 doi.org/10.1155/2015/535439
    [4] Paptrianon S,Thammongkolchai,T.Supadul,P : Clonazepam in attenuating hyperekplexia: a case report and review of literatures . Int J Neurosci 2015 23(1):91–93 

  4. Woollacott, Marjorie H., Shu-Shih Hsieh, Jayne M. Robinovitch, Tracy Lee-Ann Thrasher Citation Information &lt;b>Introduction to Postural Control With Clinical Applications</b>. Elsevier Science Health Science Division (2007). ISBN: 9780750677127 

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