Neurological disordersWhat are neurological disorders?? The medical specialty of neurology includes all diseases of the brain and nervous system. On this page you can read which diseases belong to the neurological diseases, which symptoms they have and which possibilities of therapy there are.
What are neurological diseases?
By definition, neurological diseases are those that affect the following body structures:
– brain – meninges – sensory organs – spinal cord – peripheral nerves (including nerve roots and muscles), – blood vessels of the nervous system – immune system and the endocrine system, if the disorder is based in the nervous system
Stroke – the most important precursors "Time is brain" – every minute counts in a stroke! How to recognize the collapse in the head?
Common neurological diseases
What are the most common neurological diseases? The list below will show you:
– Stroke – Brain hemorrhage – Parkinson's disease – Multiple sclerosis (MS) – Meningitis – Epilepsy – Migraine – Polyneuropathy – Brain tumors
Neurological diseases from A to Z
Common symptoms of neurological disorders
Neurological diseases cause many different symptoms. Some are clearly recognizable as such, for example, an epileptic seizure. Others show themselves less clearly and can only be identified as neurological symptoms in consultation with a doctor.
Many neurological diseases affect coordination and thus cause Movement disorders (ataxia). Therefore, the following complaints can also go hand in hand with a neurological disease:
– Gait disorders – Balance disorders – Movement disorders (z.B. stiff neck) – paralysis – changes in muscle tone (z.B. muscle weakness, muscle twitching or stiff muscles) – tremor (shaking) of individual parts of the body or the whole body – difficulty swallowing, or. Changes in swallowing
Ataxia Ataxia refers to disturbances in the coordination of movement. It can occur with numerous diseases. Read here everything important about ataxia!
Tremor A tremor can start with cold, excitement, or exhaustion. But it can also be a symptom of diseases. Everything you need to know about causes. Therapy of tremor.
Sensory and perceptual disturbances
In addition to motor symptoms, neurological diseases frequently cause so-called Sensitivity disorders at. These are disturbances in the perception of external stimuli. These sensitivity disorders can affect all sensory organs.
Therefore it comes with neurological complaints for example to:
– Numbness and tingling of the skin – Disturbed sense of temperature – Altered perception of pain – Altered perception of movement – Loss of sense of smell (anosmia) – Loss of sense of taste (ageusia) – Seeing double images (diplopia)
Tingling Tingling is a usually unpleasant, disturbing subjective sensation that can have a variety of causes. Read more about the causes here. Treatment of tingling.
Diplopia (seeing double images) Diplopia refers to seeing double images. Read here why you suddenly see double, how it happens and what you can do about it.
Neurological diseases often cause pain. Depending on the underlying disease, the Pain occur in different parts of the body and in different body structures. Often patients suffer from:
– headache – facial pain – burning skin – neck pain – nerve pain – muscle pain – pain in individual parts of the body or trunk
Headaches Headaches are usually harmless, but sometimes they are a warning signal for underlying serious diseases. Read here how to correctly assess headaches.
Neck pain – these can be the causes Neck pain can have many causes. Which these can be, you will find out in the picture gallery.
Disturbances of consciousness
Diseases of the brain and nervous system can severely affect consciousness. Therefore, some neurological diseases cause Disturbances of consciousness. This manifests itself, for example, through the following symptoms:
– Dizziness – Sleep disorders – Unconsciousness – Concentration, attention and memory disorders – Disturbance of spatial orientation – Change in action planning, z.B. erratic, rash or atypical decisions – behavioral abnormalities – change in personality
Lack of concentration Everybody has a lack of concentration from time to time. Read more about the most common causes of a lack of concentration here.
Dizziness – harmless or threatening? Dizziness attacks can hide dangerous diseases. When to see a doctor?
Change in speech pattern
If a disease affects the brain, this can have an impact on the Language of the affected person have. A well-known example is the stroke. Often relatives or friends of patients then notice changes in speech pattern. It often comes to:
– Changes in speech (sentence structure, expression) – Changes in speech comprehension – Changes in pronunciation or clarity
Classification of neurological disorders
Neurological diseases and nervous disorders fall under the specialty of neurology. Here, doctors deal with the structure, function and diseases of the entire nervous system. The nervous system initially consists of two parts:
Central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal cord Peripheral nervous system (PNS), includes all the nerves, nerve roots and nerve plexuses in the body. Part of the PNS is the autonomic nervous system. It controls the unconscious functions of the body (z.B. breathing) and the function of the internal organs.
The muscular system also belongs, at least in part, to the field of neurology. Muscles and nerves only function properly if they work together optimally. They form an inseparable unit.
Neurological diseases are further classified according to the functions affected or their clinical appearance – from headache disorders to epilepsies and tumor diseases.
Headache and migraine
Primary headaches also belong to the field of neurology. These are headaches that do not occur as a result of another disease or injury (e.g.B. craniocerebral trauma) occur. It is therefore an independent clinical picture. The primary chronic headache can occur daily. Considerably impair the quality of life of those affected.
The top 3 most common types of headache. How they occur and when it is better to see a doctor.
Headaches are common: up to 70 percent of the population suffers from episodic tension headaches, ten to twelve percent from migraine and four percent from chronic headaches.
Here you can learn more about the different types of headaches:
Migraine Migraine is a recurrent, usually unilateral headache, often with accompanying symptoms such as nausea. Read more about migraine here.
Cluster headache Cluster headache is characterized by extreme, strictly unilateral headaches. Here you can read everything important!
Drug-induced headache A downside of too many painkillers is drug-induced headache. What it is and what helps against it, you will learn here.
No more headaches! What to do to prevent headaches from occurring in the first place? The best anti-headache tips.
A subfield of neurology are the movement disorders. In these diseases, the flow of information between the brain and muscles no longer functions optimally. These diseases are noticeable by a deterioration in mobility or by the occurrence of involuntary movements or cramps.
Tremor of individual body parts, the head or the entire body is a typical symptom of Parkinson's disease.
However, pathological muscle tension (dystonia) also belongs to movement disorders. The affected suffer from involuntary muscle contractions. These can also lead to malpositions of individual body parts.
The following neurological diseases are movement disorders:
Parkinson's disease Parkinson's disease is a neurological disease with progressive movement disorders. Read more about symptoms and course!
Huntington's disease Huntington's disease is a disease of the brain caused by a genetic defect. It gradually affects the entire body. First symptoms are movement disorders. Read more here!
Restless Legs Restless legs cause an agonizing urge to move. How to recognize the syndrome and what causes it, read here.
Inflammatory nerve diseases
In chronic inflammatory nerve diseases, the nerve cells of the brain and/or spinal cord become inflamed. The inflammatory response causes nerves to become damaged and unable to transmit stimuli from surrounding body structures.
A well-known example of such a disease is multiple sclerosis (MS). The myelin sheaths, an insulating layer around the nerve fibers, are continually being degraded. The immune system seems to play an important role in this process. With more than 120.000 patients in Germany, MS is the most common chronic disease of the central nervous system.
Multiple sclerosis Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the nervous system. Read more about the incurable disease.
Guillain-Barre syndrome Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS, idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis) is an inflammatory disease of the nerves. Learn more!
Other autoimmune diseases can also be directed against the nerve structures of the body and cause inflammation of the nerve pathways.
Various bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites attack the human nervous system and can cause inflammation of the nerves. In the course of the infection there is, for example, an inflammation of the brain or the cerebral membranes. The following infectious diseases affect the nervous system:
– Meningitis – Early summer meningoencephalitis (FSME) – Encephalitis – Polio – Lyme disease
The term "dementia" does not denote a specific disease. It represents the common occurrence of certain symptoms ("syndrome"), which can have a wide variety of causes. In total, the term covers more than 50 different types of disease.
All forms of dementia have one thing in common: persistent or even progressive impairment of memory, thinking and/or other brain functions. Often there are additional symptoms, for example in interpersonal behavior or a change in personality.
The following diseases belong to the dementia diseases:
Dementia The term dementia refers to around 50 clinical pictures such as Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Read more about forms. Therapy of dementia!
Alzheimer's disease In Alzheimer's disease the memory fades. Read here what causes it, what symptoms occur and how to treat the disease.
Some risk factors for dementia can be positively influenced by lifestyle changes. The picture gallery shows you how you can lower your dementia risk:
12 risk factors for dementia
Christiane Fux studied journalism and psychology in Hamburg. Since 2001, the experienced medical editor has been writing magazine articles, news and non-fiction texts on every conceivable health topic. In addition to her work for NetDoktor, Christiane Fux is also a prose writer. In 2012, she published her first crime novel; she also writes, designs and publishes her own crime novels.
This has an effect on the risk of dementia
The genes are to blame! This only applies to a very small proportion of dementia patients. Other risk factors often play a role, first and foremost, of course, age. Some of them can influence you – and thus reduce your likelihood of declining mentally.
As seniors' hearing gets worse, their social lives suffer. And the brain is also affected: the mental abilities of people with hearing loss decrease much faster than those of their hearing-impaired peers – by up to 24 percent. The advice of the U.S. researchers who discovered the connection: Do not take hearing loss lightly and rather rely on a hearing aid early on.
Sleeping pills and the like.
Drugs for incontinence, sleep disorders or depression seem to increase the risk of dementia when used in higher doses or for longer periods – even after they have been discontinued. Researchers advise prescribing anticholinergic medications at the lowest possible dose, regularly monitoring treatment success, and discontinuing treatment if medications don't have the desired effect.
Acid blockers are widely used to combat heartburn. Seniors who took acid blockers such as omeprazole and pantoprazole over a longer period of time were 44 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who did not take proton pump inhibitors. Whether it was actually the medication or an unknown common factor that increased the risk of dementia, however, is still unclear. Either way, the inhibitors should only be taken if absolutely necessary. Sunbathing may protect against Alzheimer's. Other dementias. The reason: The body forms vitamin D in sunlight. According to a study, people with vitamin D deficiency had a 53 percent increased risk of developing dementia. With severe deficiency, the likelihood increased by as much as 125 percent. Vitamin D is also found in some foods, such as fish, but almost 90 percent of the requirement is produced by the body itself.
Divorce, death of a partner, mentally ill relatives – major emotional stresses drive up the dementia risk. That's true at least for women, a long-term study by the University of Gothenburg shows. The risk of Alzheimer's disease alone increased by 15 percent per stressor. One possible explanation is that stress leads to hormonal changes that have a negative effect on the central nervous system.
Those who are less emotionally stable, for example, particularly nervous, anxious, moody, insecure and sensitive to stress, apparently carry a significantly higher risk of Alzheimer's than emotionally stable people. Psychologists refer to such a trait as neuroticism. Dementia particularly often affects women who are quickly stressed and at the same time particularly closed off to other people.
Being alone and feeling lonely are two different things. Those who are lonely suffer from being alone. This very feeling is apparently also a risk factor for dementia. Who in a study with 2.000 participants reported this mental health condition were 2.5 times more likely to later develop dementia. Countermeasures can be taken in good time, for example by trying to strengthen and expand one's social network.
Diabetes and high blood prere
Diabetes and high blood prere are bad for the vessels. This is why diabetics have a higher risk of dementia. And they develop senile dementia more than two years earlier, on average, than non-diabetics. High blood prere, in turn, increases the risk of so-called vascular dementia, according to a study by the George Institute for Global Health by as much as 62 percent if the high blood prere occurs between the ages of 30 and 50 years. If, on the other hand, it occurs for the first time at the age of 80 to 90, this even protects the patient.
People who smoke cigarettes regularly not only damage their lungs and increase their risk of cancer. The brain also suffers because of nicotine and co. the vessels become constricted. Among other things, this impedes the supply of oxygen and nutrients – even in the thinking organ. This, in turn, can lead to cognitive losses. Finally, it can also lead to dementia. By the way, many smokers die before they can even develop dementia. Two more good reasons to quit smoking!
Dirty air is also suspected to increase dementia risk. A study of older women showed that those living in urban neighborhoods with extremely high levels of air pollution had a 92 percent higher risk of developing dementia than those living in rural areas with low levels of fine particulate pollution. How exactly the microscopic particles get into the brain is still unclear, however, according to the study authors.
Too obese or too lean – both are not good when it comes to the risk of dementia. Researchers disagree, however, when it comes to mild obesity in midlife. While some see an increased likelihood in this case as well, other studies even report a protective effect. The answer – and a corresponding recommendation – is still pending here.
Depression and dementia often go hand in hand. That's why it wasn't known for a long time whether depression was just a harbinger of dementia, or a risk factor. This question was clarified in 2014 by an American study: First comes the mental depression, then the mental decline. It is also true that the more severe the symptoms of depression, the higher the subsequent risk of dementia. Anyone who is depressed should also be treated for this in any case, say the experts
Healthy lifestyle pays off
Researchers have also investigated what people can do to protect themselves from dementia: No cigarettes, no alcohol, a healthy diet, normal weight and exercise – these five lifestyle rules strengthen not only physical but also mental health. The long-term study by Welsh researchers showed that this can actually reduce the likelihood of dementia by up to 60 percent.
Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder. It is a functional disorder of the brain in which epileptic seizures occur repeatedly. About five percent of the population experiences such a seizure at least once in their lifetime.
How an epileptic seizure manifests itself varies greatly. This depends, among other things, on the affected brain region and the spread of the seizure. It can manifest itself as a kind of trance or as a violent seizure. Sometimes motor disorders such as stiffening, twitching, tongue biting or perceptual disturbances then occur.
Most often, an epileptic seizure occurs in epileptics. However, there are also other possible triggers for an attack (z.B. alcohol withdrawal, poisoning, fever, hypoglycemia).
Epilepsy Epilepsy, also known as "falling sickness" called, is accompanied by disturbances of consciousness and seizures. Causes are malfunctions of the brain.
Epileptic seizure An epileptic seizure is usually not dangerous and ends after a few minutes. Read more about the process here. Possible risks of a seizure!
vascular diseases of the brain
Vascular diseases include various clinical pictures, for example vascular aneurysms, fistulas and hematomas (angiomas, arterio-venous malformations, cavernomas). The great danger of such a vascular malformation is that it can unexpectedly lead to a threatening cerebral hemorrhage. Such hemorrhages can occur in different areas of the brain.
However, the vessels in the brain can also become clogged due to a blood clot. This can cause congestive hemorrhage or hypoxia of parts of the brain In the latter case, it is called a stroke (apoplexy). The brain cells do not receive sufficient nutrients due to the blockage and die within a short time.
Stroke A stroke can cause the most severe damage to the brain. Read here how to recognize it, what to do in an emergency and how to treat it.
Cerebral hemorrhage In a cerebral hemorrhage, a ruptured vessel causes blood to leak into the head. Read more about symptoms, causes and cures for brain hemorrhage.
Neuromuscular diseases include disease patterns of the muscle or muscle cell, signal transmission from the nerve cell to the muscle (neuromuscular transmission disorders), peripheral nerves (neuropathies), and motor nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain (motor neuron diseases).
Neuromuscular transmission disorder
The term neuromuscular transmission disorder covers diseases in which the signal transmission between nerve cell and muscle is disturbed. They are also called myasthenic syndromes.
Myasthenia gravis Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disease that leads to muscle weakness. All about symptoms. Treatment read here!
Lambert-Eaton syndrome Lambert-Eaton syndrome is a rare disease in which the transmission of signals by the nerves is disturbed. You can find out everything you need to know here!
Motor neuron diseases
When nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, which normally control the muscles, perish, this is also known as motor neuron disease. Because these special nerve cells are called motoneurons.
Various neurological diseases cause these motor nerve cells to die off. This causes paralysis, muscle breakdown and spasms. Speaking, swallowing and breathing can also be affected by the loss of nerve cells. The following diseases are among them:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a degenerative nerve disease. Read here how ALS develops and how to treat it.
Spinal muscular atrophy Spinal muscular atrophies (SMA) are nerve diseases associated with progressive muscle loss. Read more about cause, treatment and progression here.
Diseases of the peripheral nerves (neuropathies)
Peripheral nerves are nerves that run outside the spinal cord. They move the muscles (motor nerves) and transmit sensations from the skin and other structures to the spinal cord (sensory nerves). There are also autonomic (vegetative) nerves that regulate body functions such as sweating, hair growth, and adjustment of vessel width.
If the motor, sensory and autonomic nerve fibers run together in a nerve bundle, this is also called a peripheral nerve.
Various diseases can affect these peripheral nerves. These include:
– Polyneuropathy – Trigeminal neuralgia – Carpal tunnel syndrome
Neoplastic diseases (tumor diseases)
A tumor disease can affect any tie of the body. So does the brain. The nervous system. A tumor can arise from endogenous tie in the brain or spinal cord. However, it can also proliferate from the meninges or nerves of the brain and spinal cord. In this case, physicians speak of a glioma.
Here you can learn more about neoplasms of the brain and nervous system:
Brain tumor Brain tumors occur benign or malignant. Read all about the different types, their treatment and chances of recovery!
Glioma A glioma is a type of brain tumor that develops primarily from supporting cells of nerve tie (glial cells). Read more about glioma.
How neurological diseases are diagnosed?
In the case of a neurological disease, the diagnosis is usually made by a neurologist. His task is to interpret the patient's symptoms correctly and to order the right examinations.
First and foremost in the neurological diagnosis is a detailed discussion between the doctor and the patient (medical history). In the process, the doctor asks the following questions, for example:
– What symptoms do you have? – When did you first notice the complaints? – Do you suffer from (chronic) diseases? – Are there any cases of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or epilepsy in your family?
With the help of this conversation, the doctor can rule out certain diseases and knows which examinations will give him the right diagnosis. The following are various examinations, mainly of the brain and nervous system.
Neurological examination is the next step to detect diseases, failures and disorders of the nervous system. The examination includes the following steps:
View (Inspection): examining gait, posture, sense of balance, and looking for obvious injuries, rashes, or other skin changes.
Internal examination: Examination of the vital functions (heart function, large neck vessels and pulse measurement).
Examination of the 12 cranial nervesEach cranial nerve has a specific function. If you suffer from neurological diseases, there may be disturbances. With the help of functional tests, the doctor checks the sensory functions (sight, smell, taste, hearing), examines the eye movements, facial expressions, swallowing process and the patient's speech.
Examination of reflexesReflexes are involuntary reactions of the nervous system to a stimulus. An example is the so-called patellar tendon reflex: The doctor hits a certain spot of the tendon under the kneecap with a small hammer and thus triggers the muscle reflex. The knee is involuntarily extended when a reflex is present.
Examination of motor functionThe doctor examines the spine, joints, limbs and muscles. It checks joint mobility, fine motor skills and muscle tension.
Examination of coordination: The doctor checks how the muscles work together, for example with target exercises (patient must touch the nose with the index finger). The doctor also looks at the movement of the facial muscles.
Sensitivity testing: Examination of pain and temperature perception as well as sensitivity to prere and touch. With a piece of absorbent cotton or cellulose, the doctor tickles the patient. Examines the sensitivity of the skin. With a pointed object, he presses into certain areas of the skin and checks the sensitivity to pain. The autonomic nervous system controls the function of the internal organs. Unconscious body functions such as respiration. The doctor therefore examines breathing, digestion, the pulse and perspiration.
Test of cognitive functions: Speech, language comprehension, recognition of shapes and objects, and solving math problems provide information about the patient's mental functions. These abilities are impaired, for example, in patients with a cerebral hemorrhage or after a stroke.
Mental assessment: The patient's mental state is also examined in the case of neurological diseases. Diseases of the brain can alter the mental state and in some cases negatively affect it. The physician therefore checks the short-term memory, the ability to concentrate, he looks for possible changes in consciousness and inquires about the patient's mood.
Neurological examination – how it works With the help of a neurological examination, the doctor checks the function and performance status of the brain and nervous system. Read all about it!
In order to make a reliable diagnosis, further examinations are necessary in most cases. This is used to identify the underlying disease or to rule out inaccurate diagnoses.
values from the Laboratory help in the diagnosis of neurological diseases. Certain substances can accumulate in the blood, urine and nerve fluid in various clinical pictures. These serve as important clues for the physician during diagnosis.
Common laboratory tests for neurological disorders include:
– Blood test – Urine test – Lumbar puncture (nerve water examination)
Imaging procedures in neurology
Imaging is used to visualize the structures in the brain or the nerve pathways and to detect possible damage or deposits. The neurologist uses for this purpose:
– Ultrasound (sonography) – X-ray – computed tomography (cranial CT) – MRI of the head – angiography
With contrast media, the imaging techniques often provide more conclusive results. Before the examination, the patient is given a drug that makes the physical structures more clearly visible on the images, for example blood vessels. This makes it easier for the doctor to diagnose neurological diseases.
Determination of muscle activity is also important for diagnosis. The physician determines this with the help of a Electromyography (EMG). With the help of the electrical activity, the muscle and nerve function can be assessed. In this procedure, thin needle electrodes are inserted into the patient through the skin into the selected muscle. These then measure the electrical activity of the muscle.
He measures the activity of the brain in a procedure called Electroencephalography (EEG). The neurologist sticks electrodes on the scalp of the affected person and connects them to each other. When the nerve cells in the brain are discharged, the electrodes record this. This is how they measure the electrical activity of the brain.
The determination of nerve conduction velocity is also an important parameter in neurological diagnosis. This is done with a electroneurography (ENG). With this examination, the doctor assesses the ability of a nerve to transmit electrical impulses.
EEG – how it works An EEG (electroencephalography) is an examination method that measures the electrical activity of the cerebral cortex. Read all about it!
Treatment of neurological diseases
Treatment always depends on the underlying disease. Effective therapies are now available for many neurological diseases. However, there are still clinical pictures for which there is no effective treatment. These diseases are not curable – treatment then has the relief of symptoms. Aiming to improve the patient's quality of life.