Responsible for controlling and directing the body’s basic functions and activities, the nervous system consists of the central and the peripheral nervous systems. The central nervous system is responsible for brain and spinal cord activities and the peripheral nervous system regulates neurons. Due to its complexity, the nervous system is prone to ailments that involve the brain, spinal cord, and other tissues found in the body. Nervous system disorders may include Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy.
Degenerative nervous system disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, occur when cells within the nervous system deteriorate. A progressive and irreversible disease, Alzheimer’s mostly affects adults over the age of 60. The disease is characterized by memory loss; as the disorder progresses, a person suffering from Alzheimer’s often experiences confusion, disorientation, and changes in behavior as more neurons in the brains die. Alzheimer’s may become so severe that a person afflicted by the disease may be bedridden, unable to communicate, and reliant on others for basic care.
Vascular disorders, which include strokes, transient ischemic attack (TIA), and hemorrhages, are another type of nervous system disorder that affects the brain. A person suffers a stroke when blood flow and oxygen to the brain are disrupted. Clots in the brain or bleeding in the brain can be the cause of strokes. During a stroke, a person can lose thousands of blood cells, which may result in permanent brain damage or even death. After experiencing a stroke, an individual may have trouble walking and communicating.
Some nervous system disorders also may be the result of the body’s immune system attacking itself. One such autoimmune disorder is multiple sclerosis — MS is degenerative as well — which is more common in women than men. Multiple sclerosis causes the nerve impulses that transport messages from the brain and spinal cord to go haywire, resulting in a decrease or even loss of bodily control. Symptoms typically include trouble with balance and walking, weakness in limbs, numbness, and difficulty seeing. While there is no known cure for multiple sclerosis, treatment may keep symptoms under control. Attacks may lead to a point, however, at which a person suffering from the disorder requires a wheelchair to get around.
When the electrical impulses in the brain become unstable, a seizure may occur. Seizures are one general symptom of nervous system disorders; some others include headaches, blurred or double vision, lack of coordination, and muscle rigidity. Persistent convulsions may lead to an ailment of the nervous system known as epilepsy, sometimes referred to as a seizure disorder. A person with epilepsy may lose consciousness and experience a seizure that can last seconds or minutes. While a person with epilepsy can live a normal life with medication, he may be at risk if a seizure causes injury as a result of a fall or occurs while driving.