Our nervous system comprises the brain, nerves, and spinal cord. This complex collection of nerves and neurons is quintessential as they remit signals to various body parts. It fundamentally acts as the command centre of our body. It has immense power as it controls most of our day-to-day functions. It essentially controls, regulates, and enables communication in the body. Be it the beating of our heart or the way we move, think, or learn, it contains everything and connects us to the world around us. Neurological disorders affect millions of people every year across the globe; one must understand its early signs and take proper treatment.
What is a neurological disorder?
Neurological disorders are primarily a group of diseases of the peripheral and central nervous systems. They affect the spinal cord, brain, and nerves. These result from chemical, structural, or electrical deformities within our nervous system. A neurological disorder can be owing to several underlying factors such as genetic disorders, brain injuries, infections, congenital abnormalities, trauma, tumours, structural defects, blood flow disruption, autoimmune disorders. These disorders differ in severity and come in all shapes and sizes. It can affect both children and adults. There are more than 600 neurological disorders that involve many people across the globe. A few of the most prevailing neurological disorders are:
- Alzheimer’s disease, along with other types of dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cerebral palsy
- Multiple Sclerosis and many more
Classification of neurological disorders
There are broadly 4 categories of neurological disorders:
- Unpredictable and Intermittent Conditions – Conditions like initial stages of multiple Sclerosis and epilepsy
- Sudden Conditions – These disorders are primarily a result of an injury, either to the brain or the spinal cord.
- Stable Neurological Conditions – For instance, cerebral palsy is the most prevalent stable neurological condition.
- Progressive Conditions – Such conditions worsen with the passing time; examples are Parkinson’s disease and motor neuron disease.
Prevalent symptoms of neurological disorders
- Physical symptoms
- Seizures and tremors
- Sudden or a persistent onset of a headache
- Loss of muscle strength
- Feeling of partial or complete loss of sensation in limbs
- Difficulty in writing and read
- Impaired memory and poor cognitive abilities
- Double vision or loss of sight
- Slurred speech and muscle wasting
- Impaired mental ability
- Emotional symptoms
- Prone to sudden outbursts and immense mood swings
- Increased likelihood of delusions and depression
Most commonly diagnosed neurological disorders.
- It essentially takes place when there is a reduced blood supply, thereby affecting the brain’s tissues from getting oxygen and other vital nutrients. As a result, these brain cells die in a matter of minutes.
- The two primary causes of a stroke are leaking of a blood vessel or a blocked artery. At times people can experience only a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain.
- Risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.
- Signs and symptoms of a stroke –
- Sudden paralysis or numbness in the arm, face, or leg on one side of the body. One can also lose balance and hence a loss of coordination.
- Extreme difficulty while speaking and reduced ability to understand what others are saying. A severe headache coupled with dizziness, altered consciousness, etc.
- Blurred or darkened vision in one or both of the eyes.
- Parkinson’s Disease
- This disease falls under the progressive nervous disorder type and causes disturbing movement. Minor symptoms start gradually and worsen over time. It essentially leads to stiffness or slowing of training in an individual. It can also be coupled with tremors at times.
- Decreased dopamine levels cause abnormal functioning of the brain. It can be caused by genes or environmental triggers, exposure to toxins, age, etc.
- Symptoms –
- It leads to disturbing posture and balance coupled with stiffness in muscles. It can often be painful.
- It often begins with a tremor in the limbs, mainly in the hand or fingers. With time, one can experience slowed movement like dragging the feet while walking, shorter steps, etc.
- Decreased ability to perform unconscious movements like smiling, blinking, swinging of arms while walking, etc. Over time one can start chattering with a slur. Writing can also seem tedious.
- This central nervous disorder causes abnormal brain activity, causing unusual behaviour, loss of awareness, seizures, etc.
- Loss of awareness or consciousness, along with symptoms such as fear, déjà vu, or anxiety. A temporary state of confusion is often seen in patients.
- Stiff muscles can be experienced coupled with uncontrollable trembling movements of the limbs.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- This falls under the umbrella of a progressive neurological disorder that leads to brain shrinkage; hence the brain cells die. It is the most common cause of dementia.
- It is caused when the brain proteins fail to function in a usual manner which eventually leads to a series of strange toxic events. Genes, our lifestyle, and other environmental factors play a significant role.
- Symptoms –
- The primary symptom of this disease is memory loss. One can find it challenging to remember things and conversations, names of persons, and it depreciates with passing the time.
- It becomes extremely difficult to concentrate, which leads to impaired decision-making. One can also experience changes in personality and may face problems like depression, social withdrawal, loss of inhibitions, changes in sleeping habits, etc.