Conditions

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive disease that develops when the cells that produce dopamine are dead or severely damaged. Dopamine acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and helps control behavior, cognition, motor activity and several other actions. When these cells do not function properly, the brain often loses control of some bodily actions.

Parkinson's disease often begins as a tremor in the hand that slowly spreads throughout the body, causing slowed voluntary motion, rigid muscles, stooped posture, loss of involuntary movements and speech changes. These symptoms usually occur gradually and can go undetected for months or years. There is no cure for Parkinson's disease, but symptoms can usually be controlled through medication or physical therapy. Deep brain stimulation surgery may also be performed if the disease does not respond to conservative treatments.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are common conditions that involve having difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up. Sleep disorders may develop as a result of changes in the brain regions and neurotransmitters, stress, anxiety, depression, poor sleep habits or many other possible causes. By not getting sufficient sleep at night, many people are affected during the day and may have difficulty completing their everyday activities.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when an injury or trauma to the head causes damage to the brain. TBI may cause a loss of consciousness, headache, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, behavioral changes, memory problems and more. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and may eventually lead to permanent disability or death.

If you experience symptoms of traumatic brain injury, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Significant brain damage often cannot be reversed and needs to be treated as soon as possible in order to prevent further damage. TBI is treated by stabilizing the patient and making sure enough oxygen is supplied to the brain and the rest of the body. Later treatment includes physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as psychological and social support. A TBI often causes tragic changes to a person's life and can affect their friends and family as well.

Dementia

Dementia is a series of age-related symptoms that involves a loss of mental skills and deteriorating brain function. Dementia literally translates to "deprived of mind" and is most often caused by Alzheimer's disease. Symptoms of dementia occur when nerve cells die or lose communication and slowly lose their ability to function.

The symptoms of dementia develop gradually and may not even be noticed by the patient until family and friends point it out.  Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty using or understanding words
  • Difficulty planning things out
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Forgetting names, dates, etc.
  • Unable to follow directions
  • Neglecting personal safety and hygiene

Dementia and its related conditions cannot be cured, but many cases can be managed though medication and cognitive training to improve functioning in everyday life. It is important to practice healthy habits such as exercising regularly and maintaining low blood pressure and low cholesterol in order to help prevent dementia from worsening.

Headache

A headache is a common symptom that involves aching or pain in one or more areas of the head or face. Over 45 million people are affected by headaches each year and many of these cases include chronic headaches that last for weeks or months with no relief.

Headaches can be associated with a wide range of conditions and causes, including coughing, sneezing, fever, arthritis, depression, or even environmental changes. There are many different types of headaches, classified by the cause, location and severity of the pain. The most common types of headaches include:

  • Tension headaches - Tension headaches are the most common type of headache and are often caused by stress, anxiety and depression in middle to older aged people.
  • Cluster headaches - Cluster headaches last for a period of weeks or months and then go away for a while. They often return during the same season in the following year.
  • Migraines - Migraines cause throbbing pain often on one side of the head and are often so severe that they can lead to nausea, vomiting, depression and sleep disruption.

Headaches can often be treated with over-the-counter medications, although some are so severe that they require more advanced prescription drugs. Relieving stress and anxiety and other life changes can also help reduce the symptoms of headaches.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes certain nerve cells in the brain to send abnormal signals that result in strange body behaviors. These behaviors, known as seizures, can range in frequency, type and severity for each individual patient. Some of the indicators associated with seizures are loss of consciousness, muscle spasms, convulsions and more.

Epileptic seizures are unprovoked and have occurred at least twice in order to properly diagnose the condition. Epilepsy is a chronic condition with no cure. However, most cases can be effectively managed through medication and surgery if necessary. It is important to begin treatment as soon as possible and take medication as directed in order to minimize the frequency of symptoms. Some patients experience complete relief from their symptoms over time.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system which can gradually affect a patient's vision, speech, walking, writing and memory. This condition involves a wearing away of the myelin sheath, the protective covering of the nerves, which causes nerve signals to slow and the nerves themselves to become damaged. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune disease that is most commonly diagnosed in women between the ages of 20 and 50.

The specific cause of MS is unknown, although it may be a result of genetic factors. Like other autoimmune diseases, the body mistakes normal tissue as a foreign body and attacks against it. In this case, the brain and spinal cord are affected.

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis can vary depending on which nerves are affected, but common symptoms include:

  • Numbness or weakness in the limbs
  • Loss of vision
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Tingling
  • Tremor
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression

Since symptoms vary and can come and go, diagnosing MS is often difficult and can take months or years from when symptoms begin. There is no specific test for diagnosing MS, so your doctor may focus on ruling out other conditions in order to reach a diagnosis.

Treatment for MS is usually a lifelong process that involves different types of medications depending on the frequency and severity of symptoms. Medications commonly used for treating MS include corticosteroids, interferon, glatiramer and natalizumab. Physical therapy can also help patients manage the side effects of multiple sclerosis.

Since MS is a debilitating disease, it is important for patients to do their best to maintain an active, normal life and keep themselves as healthy as possible, both physically and emotionally. Support from friends and family can also be helpful to living a happy and healthy life.

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