Neurological disorders are the largest cause of disability worldwide. The nervous system comprises the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), peripheral nervous system (nerves), and autonomic nervous system (involuntary muscles and glands).
Neurological conditions that affect these systems can be the result of trauma, infection, inflammation, or autoimmune response. Some of the most common symptoms of a neurological condition are:
- Changes in a person’s mood
- Problems in motor skills and mobility
- Problems with walking or balance
- Sudden vision loss, blurry vision, or double vision
- Muscle spasms not caused by exercise
- Degradation of memory
- Difficulty learning
- Problems with autonomic functions, such as breathing or swallowing
Let’s take a look at several of the most common neurological conditions, their symptoms, and the possible treatments.
Common Nervous System Disorders
Due to the complexity of the brain and the entire nervous system, the afflictions that can affect the neurological system are quite varied and can affect almost anyone, regardless of age or health. The effects of these diseases can range from nearly asymptomatic to causing severe problems in bodily functions, and symptoms can appear immediately or may develop over time.
These problems can be difficult to detect by an outside observer. That is why it is usually when symptoms become obvious that diagnostic testing is performed and a diagnosis is made.
Usually associated with advanced age, dementia is frequently confused with Alzheimer’s disease, although the two conditions are different. A person with Alzheimer’s has an advanced form of dementia, but a person with dementia may not have Alzheimer’s.
In dementia, the patient’s mind exhibits a continual decline in thinking, behavioral skills, and social skills. This decline disrupts the person’s ability to function independently and will likely result in the need for full-time care.
The progress of dementia can be slowed, but no cure or reparative solution exists for dementia patients.
Epilepsy is a neurological disease marked by seizures, and it can affect anyone across genders, races, ethnic backgrounds, and age. The condition happens when abnormal activity occurs in one or more areas of the brain.
There are two different types of seizures: focal and generalized. Focal seizures happen when only a single area of the brain is affected, and they usually produce relatively mild symptoms – such as suddenly staring into space or performing repetitive movements. Generalized seizures occur when many areas of the brain are affected, and they can cause sudden severe stiffness, shaking, and loss of consciousness.
Epilepsy can be controlled through medications and, if necessary, surgery.
Nearly half of all adults in the world are estimated to have suffered a headache in the last year. This disorder is marked by recurrent headaches, and they can be migraine headaches, tension headaches, or cluster headaches.
Headaches may be the primary symptom of a singular headache-causing condition, or it can be a secondary effect of other conditions.
With MS, the immune system attacks the protective fatty myelin layer that covers the brain, spinal cord, and nerve fibers. When someone experiences an MS exacerbation, communication is interrupted between the brain and the body part that is controlled by the area being attacked.
The body can naturally replenish the missing myelin after an attack, and the symptom therefore goes away eventually. However, not everyone with MS has the proper reaction of replenishing the myelin, and this is currently being studied.
The symptoms vary widely from person to person. While no cure exists, certain treatments can help speed recovery following attacks, modify the attacks, and help manage and delay symptoms.
Parkinson’s disease affects the motor system of the body. The four main symptoms are:
- Tremors in the arms or legs
- Rigidity or stiffness in the limbs and trunk
- Bradykinesia, or a slowing of movement affecting reaction times
- Instability of the body and impaired balance
Patients can suffer difficulty talking, walking, and completing rudimentary tasks. It usually affects people over 50.
In addition to the physical symptoms, patients often suffer from emotional trauma when it affects the person’s ability to care for themselves. As motor neurons in the brain die, new ones aren’t replaced – causing a decrease in dopamine production, which causes the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Some medications can assist in slowing the progression of Parkinson’s, and surgery can repair the pathways of the brain.
Family Doctors in South Carolina
The more scientists and researchers learn about the brain and the nervous system, the more they realize how much we still don’t fully know or understand about how these complex systems work. Still, there are many successful treatments and ways to enjoy life even with a chronic neurological condition.
If you are looking for a knowledgeable and experienced physician for regular checkups or to examine a particular health issue you have, make an appointment at SC Internal Medicine Associates and Rehabilitation. You can either call us at (803) 749-1111 or fill out our appointment request form here. We look forward to partnering with you in achieving health and wellness.