By Dr. Debabrata Chakraborty, Neurology
The nervous system helps co-ordinate and regulate the different body functions. It constitutes the brain, the spinal cord, and nerves. A disorder of the system would mean that one or more of its components are not functioning properly. The causes of nervous system disorders include infections, trauma, structural defects, and degeneration. The result could be difficulty in movement, breathing, and an inability to remember things.
Nervous system disorders may involve -
- Vascular disorders such as subdural and extradural hemorrhage, stroke.
- Infections such as polio, meningitis
- Structural disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, peripheral neuropathy.
- Functional disorders such as epilepsy, headaches, dizziness.
- Degeneration such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer disease.
The most common nervous system disorders are -
- Meningitis- Meningitis is caused by a number of different agents, which include fungi, protozoans, and viruses. Though the cases caused by bacteria are the most dangerous. The individual experiences high fever, extreme vomiting and irritability and severe headaches. It causes the membranes that cover the spinal cord and the brain which are called meninges to inflame. It is diagnosed by testing a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid which is taken through a lumbar puncture. The forms of meningitis which aren’t caused by bacteria are fairly uncomplicated and short. However bacterial infections require more extensive medical attention.
- Polio- Polio which is also known as infantile paralysis is symptomised by nausea, extreme fatigue, and acute muscle pains. These symptoms may progress to permanent paralysis of the limbs. It affects the central nervous system causing the inflammation of the motor nerves of the spinal cord. Though the course of paralysis can’t be reversed, they can however be halted and even avoided. Vaccinations for polio should be administered to infants to immunize them from the infection.
- Epilepsy- Epilepsy is a chronic nervous system disorder that is caused by either an excess or absence of the transmit ion of nerve signals in the brain. The symptoms include recurrent and sudden seizures, which causes convulsions, lapses in consciousness and emotional distress. It is diagnosed conclusively with MRI scans and by evaluating the electrical activity of neurons in the brain. Brain damage if caused is irreversible but the seizures can be controlled with the help of medication.
- Parkinson’s Disease- A degenerative disorder causes muscle tremors and rigidity. It affects the motor nerves of the brain and causes a progressive decline in motor function. A genetic history of this disease is a significant risk.
- Alzheimer Disease- Alzheimer is a degenerative disorder of the nervous system which causes damage to the brain’s cerebral cortex leading to an irreversible decline of cognitive abilities. Though more common amongst elderly individuals, early-onset cases of Alzheimer’s have rapidly increased.
A nervous system disorder could have debilitating results and hence should be diagnosed early so that they may be treated in time.