As the population ages and life expectancy expands, we are seeing more and more neurological disorders. However, many people tend to ignore the signs of neurologic diseases, which can only lead to worse outcomes and often result in irreversible damage. For this reason, it has become crucial to be able to identify the most common neurological disorders and their symptoms in order to detect them early.
In this article, we will cover 5 common neurological disorders and their respective signs and symptoms to help you become more apt at identifying them.
The most common neurological disorders
1. Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a prevalent neurological condition that mainly affects older adults. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it is a form of dementia. Most patients get Alzheimer’s disease after the age of 65, whereas a small group of people will get what is known as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (i.e., it occurs early on in life). Unfortunately, we still don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s disease; however, researchers made great advances in unveiling the pathophysiology and potential treatments of this condition.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
While everyone forgets things from time to time, patients with Alzheimer’s disease present with a worsening case of cognitive decline and behavioral abnormalities.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may include:
- Memory loss that affects daily activities (e.g., appointments, parking spot)
- Having trouble with basic tasks (e.g., using the microwave)
- The inability to solve simple problems
- Experiencing difficulties with speech and writing
- Frequent disorientation about time and places
- Lower personal hygiene
- Mood swings and personality changes
2. Parkinson’s disease
Most often, the signs of Parkinson’s disease start gradually and subtly, which may delay the diagnosis. Parkinson’s disease is another common condition that is characterized by the progressive degeneration of neurologic function, which leads to motor and speech disabilities. Unfortunately, older individuals are the most susceptible age group to developing Parkinson’s disease, which negatively impacts their ability to take care of themselves.
At first, patients may notice a slight tremor in their hands and lower limb stiffness that produces a classic gait. Facial expression will also be compromised along with speech and voice tone. Over time, other signs will develop, including the inability to maintain balance, general weakness, and a diminished sense of smell. You should keep in mind that each patient may experience different signs and symptoms, and you can rarely find an exact typical clinical presentation. Overall, the signs mentioned above are the most common amongst these patients.
The medical literature defines dementia as the progressive decline in cognitive abilities associated with a mental impairment that alters at least two of the following functions:
- Though processing
Most people consider dementia to be its own disease entity, but in reality, it is a manifestation of another underlying pathology or traumatic injury to the head. The degree of damage and severity of symptoms in patients with dementia vary significantly, which is the reason behind the relative diagnostic challenges that physicians face when dealing with this issue.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is considered a common cause of death in the United States. It is extremely challenging to deal with since patients present with vague symptoms that may appear acutely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2006 to 2014, the number of TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths increased by 53%. Those who survive after a concussion may have to deal with irreversible neurological symptoms for the rest of their lives. It is truly a hassle to deal with.
Signs and symptoms of a concussion
The signs and symptoms of a concussion vary greatly, depending on the region affected inside the brain. For instance, if your frontal lobe gets traumatized, you may experience symptoms of confusion, headache, and poor muscle coordination.
Nevertheless, here are some of the most common signs and symptoms you would expect:
- Light sensitivity
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory loss
Strokes are the result of blood flow interruption to a certain region of the brain due to atheromatous plaque formation in the lumen of a vessel, or the migration of a clot from a distant body part. The most common cause of strokes is arterial occlusion that occurs after atherosclerosis has clogged a blood vessel. Unfortunately, the complications of strokes quickly install, and in a large number of patients, the damage is irreversible or requires years of rehabilitation therapy.
Signs and symptoms of strokes
Based on the area affected by blood deprivation, we can see different signs and symptoms of a stroke. Additionally, the faster we provide the patient with the proper care, the better their outcome is going to be.
Here are the most common signs and symptoms of stroke:
- Unilateral (i.e., one-sided) numbness or weakness (e.g., arm, face, leg)
- Trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Slurring speech
- Vision problems (e.g., double vision, blurred vision)
- Trouble walking
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Severe headache
A word about Superior Neurology
Remember; identifying a neurological disorder early in the process is fundamental for an optimal management plan. It simply improves your clinical prognosis (i.e., outcome) hundreds of times over.
We hope that this article managed to highlight the most common neurological disorders and how to identify them.
If you still have any questions about today’s list, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section below.