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Nervous System: Epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease, Stroke

It is the command center of the body. The cerebral cortex is responsible for controlling movements, thoughts, and automatic responses to outside world

Nervous System

It is the command center of your body. The cerebral cortex is responsible for controlling your movements, thoughts, and automatic responses to the outside world. It controls various body functions, such as digestion, breathing, and puberty, as well as controlling other body systems and functions. Your nervous system can be damaged by disease, accidents, chemicals, and aging.

Nearly everything you think, feel, do or say is governed by your nervous system. It influences complex functions like memory, thinking, and movement. In addition to controlling what your body does without thinking about it, it also affects the way you breathe, blush and blink.

The nervous system affects all aspects of your health, including:
  • Memory, feeling, learning, and thoughts
  • Aging, sleep, and healing
  • Body processes like puberty
  • Movements such as co-ordination and balance
  • Breathing patterns and heartbeat
  • Response in stressful situations
  • Senses such as taste, touch, feel, etc.
  • Digestions – feeling thirsty and hungry
Your body is controlled by this complex system. Your body's systems and your ability to observe the environment are regulated by the nervous system. Through a vast network of nerves, your cells, glands, and muscles send and receive electrical signals. These nerves function as your interface to the outside world. Once the information is interpreted, you respond accordingly. It's like there is a vast network of information lines traveling through your body.

Sending signals, or messages, throughout your body is the job of specialized cells called neurons. Throughout your brain, skin, muscles, organs, glands, and glands, electrical signals travel between them. Movement and sensations, including pain, are enhanced with the messages. Information about the environment is transmitted to your nerves throughout your body by your eyes, ears, tongue, and nose. Your nerves then send and receive that information.

Signals transmitted by neurons differ. Motor neurons transmit signals to muscles. The sensory neurons send signals to the brain based on information from your senses. Other types of neurons exist in addition to those involved in breathing, shivering, heartbeat, and digestion of food.

Parts

The nervous system consists of two major components. They are called neurons and nerve cells, respectively. Using electrical signals, your body receives and transmits information through these special cells. Following are the components of the nervous system:

Central nervous system (CNA) - You have a brain and spinal cord as part of your central nervous system. Nerves are used by your brain to send messages throughout your body. Myelin is a protective layer that surrounds each nerve. Isolating the nerve and transmitting messages are the functions of myelin.

Peripheral nervous system - We have a peripheral nervous system composed of many nerves that branch out from our central nervous system throughout our body. The brain and spinal cord relay information from your head to your legs, arms, fingers and toes. There are four types of peripheral nerves:
  • Your voluntary movements are guided by your somatic nervous system.
  • You do the things you do without thinking about them, because your autonomic nervous system controls them.

Epilepsy

It is characterized by abnormal neurologic activity in the central nervous system, which causes seizures or unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes even loss of consciousness. Epilepsy can occur to anyone at any time. Epilepsy affects both men and women of all ages and races. Seizure symptoms vary from person to person. People suffering from epilepsy sometimes stare blankly for a few seconds during an epileptic seizure, twitching their arms and legs repeatedly. Epilepsy does not automatically result from a single seizure. Epilepsy is usually diagnosed with at least two unexplained seizures occurring at least 24 hours apart (unprovoked seizures).

Many people with epilepsy can be treated with medications or surgery to control seizures. Others don't have seizures for the rest of their lives, but some require lifelong treatment to control them. Epilepsy can also be outgrown in children.

Symptoms

Since epilepsy is the result of abnormal brain activity, seizures can affect any process you coordinate with your brain. The following is an example of seizures:
  • Fear, anxiety, and Deja vu are psychological symptoms.
  • A staring spell
  • Stiff muscles
  • Temporary confusion
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements
  • Loss of awareness or consciousness
Different types of seizures cause different symptoms. The symptoms of epilepsy are usually similar from episode to episode, since people with epilepsy tend to have the same type of seizures each time. There are many brain disorders that can cause focal seizures, including migraines, narcolepsy, and mental illnesses. Epilepsy must be differentiated from other disorders through a thorough physical examination and testing.

Causes

Approximately half of the people who suffer from epilepsy have no identifiable cause. Other factors can cause the condition in the other half of the population, including:
  • Genetic influence - Epilepsy can run in families for some types, which are categorized by the type of seizure a person has or the region of the brain affected. A genetic influence is more likely to be involved in these cases. Genetic factors have been linked to some types of epilepsy, but for most people, genes contribute only a small part to epilepsy. There are some genes that can make people more sensitive to seizure-triggering environmental conditions.
  • Head trauma - Traumatic head injuries, whether from a car accident or another traumatic incident, are known to cause epilepsy.
  • Head abnormalities - In addition to epilepsy, brain malfunction, such as tumors or vascular malformations, including arteriovenous malformations (AVM) and cavernous malformations, may cause epilepsy. Adults older than 35 are at higher risk of epilepsy after a stroke.
  • Infections - Meningitis, HIV, and viral encephalitis are some of the conditions that cause epilepsy.
  • Prenatal injury - An infection in the mother, inadequate nutrition or oxygen deficiency are just a few factors that could cause brain damage to a baby before birth. Epilepsy and cerebral palsy can be the result of this brain damage.
  • Developmental disorders - Some developmental disorders, including autism, are associated with epilepsy.

Parkinson's disease

A progressive neurological disorder affecting movement, Parkinson's disease affects the nervous system. Some people experience mild tremors in one hand, which begin gradually. There may also be stiffness or sluggishness associated with the disorder, in addition to tremors. You may not be able to express any expressions when suffering from Parkinson's disease. Walking may be difficult as your arms might not swing. And you may slur your speech. As your Parkinson's disease progresses, your symptoms will worsen. Medications may improve symptoms of Parkinson's disease, despite the fact that it cannot be cured.

Symptoms

Symptoms and signs of Parkinson's disease differ from person to person. Symptoms can be mild and unnoticeable at the beginning. Even after symptoms spread to other parts of your body, a diagnosis usually begins on one side of your body.

Parkinson's disease is characterized by several symptoms:
  • Tremor - Shaking, or tremors, typically start in a limb, such as your hand or fingers. A pill-rolling tremor can be caused by rubbing your fingers back and forth. You may feel your hand trembling when it is at rest.
  • Bradykinesia (slowed movements) - You may find it difficult and time-consuming to complete simple tasks as Parkinson's disease progresses. Walks may become shorter with Parkinson's disease. Standing up from a chair may become challenging. Getting up may be difficult.
  • Rigid muscles - The muscles of any part of the body can become stiff. A stiff muscle can cause pain and limit your range of motion.
  • Impaired balance and posture - In addition to stooped posture, Parkinson's disease can also result in balance problems.
  • Loss of automatic movements - If you are unable to make unconscious movements, you may have difficulty blinking, smiling, or swinging your arms as you walk.
  • Changes in speech - Speaking may be soft, rapid, slurred, or you may hesitate before starting. It may sound monotonous instead of having the usual inflections.
  • Writing changes - Writing may become difficult, and it may appear short.

Causes

A number of neurons in the brain gradually degenerate or die in Parkinson's disease. There are many symptoms of dopamine deficiency related to the chemical messenger that is produced in your brain. In Parkinson's disease, decreased levels of dopamine cause abnormal brain activity that leads to symptoms such as impaired movement and other signs. Parkinson's disease may be caused by a number of factors, including:
  • Genes - Several genetic mutations have been identified as potentially causing Parkinson's disease. In rare cases, several family members may be affected by Parkinson's disease in the same family. There are, however, several gene variations associated with an elevated risk of Parkinson's disease, but at a relatively low risk for each of these genes.
  • Environmental triggers - Having been exposed to certain toxins or environmental factors may increase the risk of Parkinson's disease, but this risk is relatively low.
In addition, researchers have noted that Parkinson's patients' brains undergo many changes, though it is unclear why these changes occur. Among these are:
  • Presence of Lewy bodies - There are specific substances present in brain cells that are microscopic markers of Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's disease remains a mystery, according to researchers, but lewy bodies may hold a key to understanding the disease.
  • Alpha-synuclein found within Lewy bodies - Among the many substances found within Lewy bodies, alpha-synuclein (a-synuclein) is believed to be one of the most important. A clumped form cannot be broken down in cells, which is found in all Lewy bodies. It's one of the main areas of research in Parkinson's disease.

Stroke

The brain suffers from oxygen and nutrient deprivation when blood supply to part of it is reduced or interrupted. Your brain cells begin to die within minutes. It's important to get help immediately after a stroke. Preventing brain damage by taking action immediately is crucial.

Symptoms

Keep close watch on the time the symptoms started if you think you may be having a stroke. Treatments that are administered immediately after a stroke are more effective. Here are some signs and symptoms associated with stroke:
  • Speaking and understanding other people's words is difficult. Occasionally, you may experience confusion, slur your words or find it difficult to understand what is being said.
  • Numbness or paralysis may be experienced in your arm, leg, or face. The face, arm, and leg may suddenly become numb, numb, or paralyzed. Often the affected side is the only one affected. Make sure both your arms are raised over your head simultaneously. In the event that you notice one arm is falling, you may be experiencing a stroke. A drooping mouth can also occur when you smile.
  • An eye or both may be experiencing vision problems. It may suddenly happen that your vision becomes blurry or blackened, or you experience double vision.
  • Headache - You may experience stroke symptoms, including severe headaches, nausea, and altered consciousness.
  • Trouble walking - Losing your balance or falling may be symptoms. Suddenly you may become dizzy or lose your coordination.

Causes

Blood vessels leak or rupture (hemorrhagic stroke) or an artery is blocked (ischemic stroke). Transient ischemic attacks (TIA, or transient disruption of blood flow to the brain) may cause only temporary symptoms.

Ischemic stroke

Most strokes are caused by this type, but there are others. As a result of narrowed or blocked blood vessels in the brain, blood flow to the brain is greatly reduced (ischemia). When fat deposits build up in vessels, they can narrow or block arterial blood flow. Blood clots can also lodge in blood vessels, causing narrowing.

Hemorrhagic stroke

If a blood vessel in your brain ruptures or leaks, you will have a hemorrhagic stroke. There are many conditions that can cause brain hemorrhages. There are several causes of hemorrhagic stroke:
  • Ischemic stroke leading to hemorrhagic stroke
  • Overtreatment of blood thinners (anticoagulants)
  • Your blood vessel walls bulge at weak spots (aneurysms)
  • Trauma
  • The accumulation of protein in blood vessel walls that results in weakened vessel walls (cerebral amyloid angiopathy)
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressures
It is less common for thin-walled blood vessels to rupture in the brain (arteriovenous malformation).

Transient ischemic stroke (TIS)

The symptoms of a transient ischemic attack are similar to those of a stroke for a brief period of time. The condition does not cause permanent damage. These seizures occur when your brain receives less blood than usual, a phenomenon that may last as short as five minutes. TIAs are caused by clots or debris which impair blood flow to a part of the nervous system similarly to an ischemic stroke.
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of Pharmaceutical Guidelines, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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