Diseases of the nervous system – Causes and symptoms

Diseases of the nervous system

The nervous systems are responsible for the work and interconnection of all systems and organs of the human body. It unites the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, which includes the nerves that extend from the brain and spinal cord. Nerve endings provide motor activity and sensitivity to all parts of our body. A separate autonomic (autonomic) nervous system inverts the cardiovascular system and other organs. Diseases of the nervous system represent a wide and varied field of pathologies of various etiologies and symptoms. This is due to the fact that the nervous system is extremely ramified, and each of its subsystems is unique. Most often, the dysfunction of the nervous system has a detrimental effect on the functions of other internal organs and systems.


Types of diseases of the nervous system

All diseases of the nervous system can be divided into vascular, infectious, chronically progressive, hereditary and traumatic pathologies.
Vascular diseases are extremely common and dangerous. They often lead to disability or even death of the patient. This group includes acute cerebrovascular accidents (strokes) and chronic cerebrovascular insufficiency, which causes changes in the brain. Such diseases can develop as a result of hypertension or atherosclerosis . Vascular diseases of the nervous system are manifested by headaches, nausea and vomiting, decreased sensitivity and impaired motor activity.
Infectious diseases of the nervous system develop due to the pathogenic effects of various viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Mostly the brain is affected, and the peripheral nervous system and spinal cord are affected less frequently. Common diseases in this group are encephalitis, malaria, measles, etc. The symptoms of neuroinfections are fever, impaired consciousness, severe headache, nausea and vomiting.
Hereditary disorders of the nervous system are divided into chromosomal (cellular) and genomic. Down’s disease is the most common chromosomal disorder of the nervous system, and genomic pathologies most often affect the neuromuscular system. The characteristic signs of such disorders are dementia, infantility, endocrine system and locomotor system disorders.
Traumatic damage to the nervous system occurs as a result of trauma, bruising or compression of the brain or spinal cord. These include concussion . The accompanying symptoms are headache, disturbances of consciousness, nausea and vomiting , memory loss, decreased sensitivity, etc.

Degenerative lesions of the nervous system

Most diseases of a hereditary nature have any clinical symptoms characteristic of damage to the nervous system. Therefore, the classification of hereditary nervous diseases is very diverse and broad. They can be divided into five conditional groups.
The first group of hereditary nervous diseases includes degenerative lesions of the central nervous system. They appear when, after a period of normal functioning of the central nervous system, gradual destruction and death of neurons in any part of the nervous system begins. The second group includes various forms of epilepsy. Neuromuscular diseases are the third group, and the fourth group are monogenic tumors of the central nervous system. The fifth group includes diseases characterized by impaired development of neurons and their migration. All these pathologies have different types of inheritance. Let’s consider the common hereditary diseases of the nervous system in more detail.
Parkinson’s disease usually begins in old age and is manifested by a progressive decrease in general motor activity, tremors of the limbs (tremors), slowing down of movements, and changes in posture (rigidity). Development of depression and various intellectual disabilities is possible .
Alzheimer’s disease is common in people over 65. An early symptom of it is memory disorder, impairment of the ability to remember. With the development of the disease, a person’s consciousness becomes confused, and he himself can show irritability and aggression; mood fluctuates, the ability to speak and perceive speech is impaired (aphasia). Fading of consciousness leads to loss of body functions and death. Patients usually live an average of 7 years after diagnosis.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive, incurable CNS disease, the etiology of which remains unknown. The upper and lower motor neurons located in the motor cortex and anterior horns of the spinal cord undergo degenerative damage, resulting in paralysis and muscle atrophy. Thus, the patient dies from respiratory tract infections or respiratory muscle failure (see also: multiple sclerosis ).
Chorea of ​​Huntington is considered one of the most severe progressive degenerative diseases of the brain. It is a form of hyperkinesis and is characterized by mental disorders and involuntary fast movements. The disease is quite rare (10: 100,000), it affects people of all ages, but the appearance of the first symptoms usually occurs in 30-50 years.
Pick’s disease is rare but progresses very rapidly. This disease of the central nervous system mainly occurs at the age of 50-60 and is manifested by atrophy of the cerebral cortex. Symptoms of pathology are dementia, impaired ability to think logically, speech decay, etc. The clinical manifestations of Pick’s disease are similar to Alzheimer’s disease, but the complete disintegration of the personality occurs much faster.

Epilepsy – Epilepsy is a chronic disease of the nervous system and psyche that manifests itself in both childhood and adulthood. Epilepsy has a huge number of forms, including:

  • Focal (localization-related) epilepsy;
  • Generalized epilepsy;
  • Epilepsy with signs of focal and generalized forms;
  • Special syndromes.

The main symptom of epilepsy is an epileptic seizure. An epileptic seizure can occur with or without impaired consciousness. Also, seizures can be convulsive or non-convulsive, random, cyclic, caused by certain sensory factors, or permanent (status epilepticus).

Causes of diseases of the nervous system

It was mentioned above that among the causes of diseases of the nervous system, various infectious pathogens very often appear:

  • Bacteria (pneumococcus, meningococcus, staphylococcus, treponema pallidum and streptococcus );
  • Various fungi and parasites;
  • Airborne viruses (arboviruses).

Also, disorders of the nervous system can be transmitted by the placental route during pregnancy (cytomegalovirus, rubella) and along the peripheral nervous system. For example, rabies virus, herpes, acute polio and meningoencephalitis spread in this way.
Among the common causes of disorders of the nervous system are also brain contusions, tumors in the brain or their metastases, vascular disorders (thrombosis, rupture or inflammation), heredity or chronic progressive diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, chorea, Parkinson’s disease, etc.)
Malnutrition, lack of vitamins, heart, kidney and endocrine diseases also affect the nervous system. Pathological processes can develop under the influence of various chemicals: opiates, barbiturates, antidepressants, ethyl alcohol, animal and plant poisons. Poisoning with antibiotics, anticancer drugs and heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, lead, bismuth, manganese, thallium, etc.) is also possible.

Symptoms of diseases of the nervous system

Symptoms of diseases of the nervous system manifest themselves in different ways, very often in the form of movement disorders. Characterized by the development of the patient paresis (decrease in muscle strength) or paralysis, inability to move quickly, tremor, involuntary fast movements (chorea). The appearance of pathological postures (dystonia) is also possible. Possible violations of coordination and speech, involuntary contractions of different muscle groups, tics, flinching. Tactile sensitivity can also be impaired.
Other important symptoms of diseases of the nervous system are headache ( migraine ), pain in the back and neck, arms and legs. Pathological changes also affect other types of sensitivity: smell, taste, vision.
Disorders of the nervous system and epileptic seizures, tantrums, disturbances in sleep and consciousness, mental activity, behavior and psyche are manifested.

Diagnosis of diseases of the nervous system

Diagnosis of disorders of the nervous system involves a neurological examination of the patient. His consciousness, intellect, orientation in space and time, sensitivity, reflexes, etc. are subject to analysis. Sometimes the disease can be detected on the basis of clinical indicators, but more often the diagnosis requires additional research. These include computed tomography of the brain, which can detect neoplasms, hemorrhages and other foci of the disease. A clearer picture is given by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and vascular disorders can be detected by angiography and ultrasound.
Also, for the diagnosis of diseases of the nervous system, lumbar function, X-ray or electroencephalography are used.
Other research methods include biopsy, blood tests, and so on.

Treatment of diseases of the nervous system

Treatment of disorders of the nervous system depends on their type and symptoms, is prescribed by a doctor and requires intensive therapy in a hospital setting.
To avoid diseases of the nervous system, infections should be diagnosed and treated in time, lead a healthy lifestyle, give up alcohol and drugs, eat well, avoid stress and overwork. If you experience any alarming symptoms, you should definitely consult a doctor.