Having to deal with diseases of the nervous system is something few people escape in life so this article is going to give a brief overview on the topic. Even though we have the habit of thinking of neurons as being enclosed within the skull, they actually spread all through the human body forming an extensive network of nerves known as the nervous system.
This network helps the body transmit information in the form of electrical signals between its various areas, thus enabling things like movement and the sense of touch.
Because it plays such an important role in the body, diseases of the nervous system can range in seriousness from being mild annoyances to diseases with devastating consequences in the quality of life of individuals and even death.
Diseases Of The Nervous System Involving The Peripheral Nervous System
More commonly refered to as peripheral neuropathy, these are diseases that target the outer regions of the nervous system, away from the central area which is the brain and spine. When a single nerve is affected, the disease falls into the category of mononeuropathy.
A common example of mononeuropathy is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome where physical compression of the carpal tunnel’s median nerve leads to numbness and pain. The feeling of numbness when a part of the body “falls asleep” is also caused by the same type of physical compression of the nerves.
Diseases that affect not a nerve as such but an element of the nervous system as a whole are known as polyneuropathy since they harm several nerves at once. These are often caused by general health issues like diabetes that target the body as a whole.
These can lead to a wide variety of symptoms spread over the entire body, including impaired tactile perception, loss of balance, loss of muscle control and different types of pains. These issues can also extend to involuntary systems such as the heart and gastrointestinal tract.
The last major category of peripheral neuropathy is that involving inflammation, known as neuritis. There are many possible causes, ranging from infection such as in the case of leprosy, chemical or radiological poisoning, diabetes, cancer and even excessive B6 vitamin supplementation.
Diseases Of The Nervous System Involving The Central Nervous System
Diseases affecting the brain and spinal cords are classified as affecting the central nervous system. Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Encephalitis and Meningitis are some of the more well known.
Inflammation is a key factor in many diseases of the nervous system such as Meningitis and Encephalitis, which are usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection and lead to symptoms such as headaches, fever and an overall state of mental confusion.
Multiple Sclerosis on the other hand has no clear cause and the inflammation which damages the capacity of nerve cells to properly communicate with each other can lead to an extremely wide variety of symptoms, ranging in variety from things such as depression to vision problems.
Alzheimer and Parkinson are two of the most common non-inflammatory degenerative diseases. Both lead to dementia, even though Parkison’s better known symptom is loss of muscle control seen often in the charachteristic shaking of the hands. While they have no actual cure, there are ways to manage them to slow down their progress.
Covering every possible illness is not possible but the above is a good overview of what is known about the diseases of the nervous system.