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Nervous System Disorders: All You Need to Know

What Are Nervous System Disorders?|What Are the Symptoms of Nervous System Disorders?|Causes and Risk Factors|Diagnosis|Treatment|Prevention|Key Takeaways
Nervous System Disorders: All You Need to Know

What Are Nervous System Disorders?

Nervous system disorders refer to a group of conditions that affect the nervous system. The nervous system includes your brain, spinal cord, and the trillions of nerves found all over your body. Among these include common neurological disorders such as stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, and brain tumors.

Here is a quick rundown of some of these nervous system disorders:

Common Neurological Disorders

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Aneurysm
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Congenital disabilities of the brain and spinal cord
  • Brain injury
  • Brain tumor
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Concussion
  • Dementia
  • Disk disease of the neck and lower back
  • Epilepsy
  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Neuropathy
  • Neuromuscular and related diseases
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Seizures
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke
  • Vertigo

Rare Nervous System Disorders

  • Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome
  • Agnosia
  • Aicardi Syndrome
  • Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome
  • Battaglia-Neri Syndrome

How Common Are Nervous System Disorders?

Generally speaking, nervous system disorders are common. Among the most common neurological disorders are Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, epilepsy, and stroke. These occur because body systems overlap with the nervous system. Diseases that affect another part of the body can have an impact on the nervous system.

One example of this is vascular disorders or disorders that affect a person’s circulatory system. The brain needs blood to function, and any problem in the circulatory system can indirectly or directly cause problems to this organ.

Some conditions, however, are much rarer. These are mostly due to a person’s genes. The chances of inheriting these are low. Regardless, it is still essential to keep yourself informed about these symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Nervous System Disorders?

The symptoms of rare and common neurological disorders can vary depending on which part of the nervous system is affected. However, there are some general symptoms.

These include the following:

  • A sudden, unexplained headache
  • Headache that keeps on changing
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of sight or vision problems
  • Sudden weakness or inability to move your muscles
  • A tingling or numbing sensation
  • Loss of feeling, especially in the hands and feet
  • Seizures
  • Tremors or uncontrollable shaking
  • Back pain that extends to other parts of your body

When Should I See My Doctor?

Individual symptoms can be mistaken for other medical conditions or problems. It is necessary to talk to your doctor if you feel that something is wrong.

Different things can cause neurological disorders, and it is not always easy to find out the specific cause. Your doctor will need to rule out other diseases first before adequately diagnosing the condition.

The earlier the condition can be diagnosed, the better it can be treated, and the better chances are of recovery.

Causes and Risk Factors

Several things can cause both rare and common neurological disorders. Here are some of the possible causes:

  • Injury to the spinal cord or brain
  • Infection, such as meningitis
  • Degeneration is another probable cause, like in Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease
  • Genetics play a role in conditions like epilepsy or ALS
  • Diseases of the cardiovascular system can also cause neurological disorders, such as a stroke or brain hemorrhage
  • Cancer can cause brain tumors

What Are the Risk Factors for Neurological Disorders?

The risk factors for common nervous system disorders also depend on which part of the nervous system is affected. However, there are common risk factors:

  • Age is one major factor for nervous system disorders, especially for Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. Young people rarely experience these.
  • Heredity and genetics also play a role. If you have a relative that has Parkinson’s Disease, for example, you might be at a higher risk of developing it yourself. Neurological disorders such as stroke also occur within families.
  • Lifestyle choices can also play a role, and habits such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol can cause damage to a person’s nervous system.
  • People working in high-risk occupations are also at risk since they are more prone to injury.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of neurological disorders also varies depending on what the condition is. It can be difficult for doctors to have an immediate diagnosis since some neurological disorders share the same symptoms. Other diseases and health conditions can also make diagnosis difficult.

To confirm a neurological condition, doctors may conduct a series of tests to narrow down the list of possible diseases.

Here are some tests that your doctor may ask you to undergo:

  • Blood and urine tests are requested to find out if you have any underlying conditions.
  • Scans such as a magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scan can provide a closer look at the organs inside your body.
  • A procedure called Electroencephalography or EEG monitors your brain waves for any abnormal activity.
  • In some cases, doctors may request a spinal tap to get samples of your spinal fluid.
  • A neurologist may also test your reflexes and your sight to check your brain or nervous system.

Treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor for more information.

Once your doctor finds out the root cause of the problem, treatment can begin.

Treatment for neurological disorders also varies depending on the disease and the severity of it.

Here are some forms of treatment that are available:

  • For neurological disorders such as stroke, doctors can recommend surgery as well as drugs to thin out the blood and prevent blood clots.
  • People with injuries to the spinal cord can undergo therapy to help restore the function of their spine.
  • Brain tumors can be treated with surgery or through chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
  • For disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, medication can help alleviate the symptoms.
  • Epilepsy can be treated through the use of antiepileptic drugs.
  • Different forms of treatment can help restore function for those with nerve damage.
  • In cases where curing the disease is not possible, specific treatments can help alleviate the symptoms.

Prevention

Prevention of neurological disorders is not always possible, such as with epilepsy, brain tumors, and other similar conditions. However, there are steps that you can take to prevent different types of neurological disorders.

Here are some lifestyle changes you can adopt:

  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
  • Eat less processed meats, and instead eat more fish such as tuna and salmon.
  • Engage in physical activity or exercise for at least 30 minutes each day.
  • Keep your weight down and as close to your ideal weight as possible.
  • If you drink alcohol, limit your intake to one to two drinks per day.
  • For smokers, it would be best to quit smoking since it increases the risk of not just neurological disorders, but also lung problems, heart problems, and problems with the circulatory system.
  • If you work in a high-risk workplace such as construction, be sure to wear safety equipment to protect your head.

Key Takeaways

Your brain, along with your entire nervous system, is among the most important organs in your body. As you take care of your health, always remember to take note of any abnormal symptoms. It is also a good idea to eat a healthy diet to keep your body strong and free from disease.

If you feel like there is something wrong, schedule a consultation with your doctor.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Nervous System Diseases | Neurologic Diseases | MedlinePlus, https://medlineplus.gov/neurologicdiseases.html, Accessed 04 June 2020

Common Neurological Disorders | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky., https://nortonhealthcare.com/services-and-conditions/neurosciences/services/common-neurological-disorders/, Accessed 04 June 2020

Rare Neurological Disorders | List of High Impact Articles | PPts | Journals | Videos, https://www.imedpub.com/scholarly/rare-neurological-disorders-journals-articles-ppts-list.php, Accessed 04 June 2020

Overview of Nervous System Disorders – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=85&ContentID=P00799, Accessed 04 June 2020

Overview of Nervous System Disorders | Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/overview-of-nervous-system-disorders, Accessed 04 June 2020

Cigarette smoke and related risk factors in neurological disorders: An update – ScienceDirect, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S075333221631006X, Accessed 04 June 2020

Neurosciences: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007456.htm#:~:text=In%20addition%20to%20blood%20and,cerebro%2Dspinal%20fluid%20(CSF), Accessed 04 June 2020

Neurological & Spine Institute and Center for Spine – Savannah, Georgia – Preventing Neurological Problems, https://neurologicalinstitute.com/educational_resources/e_prevent.html, Accessed 04 June 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara on Jun 04, 2020
Medically reviewed by Dr. Nicole Aliling
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