INTRODUCTION TO ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY

Pathologies of the Nervous System

Alzheimer’s disease– Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioural abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of daily living. As the disease progresses there can be episodes of paranoia, hallucination, and mood changes.

Depression– is characterised by an excessive feeling of sadness that can affect sleeping patterns, appetite, and one’s ability to concentrate. It can be caused by a number of conditions such as illness, certain drugs, distressing events such as a loss of loved one or can tend to run in the family.

Headaches– is a pain felt within the skull and can vary in intensity, frequency, and cause. They can be related to stress and emotions and can be caused by other disorders of the eyes, nose, throat, sinuses.

Anosmia– is the partial or complete loss of the sense of smell. This loss may be temporary or permanent. Common conditions that irritate the nose’s lining, such as allergies or a cold, can lead to temporary anosmia. More serious conditions that affect the brain or nerves, such as brain tumours or head trauma, can cause permanent loss of smell. Old age sometimes causes anosmia.Anosmia usually is not serious, but it can have a profound effect on a person’s quality of life. People with anosmia may not be able to fully taste foods and may lose interest in eating. This can lead to weight loss or malnutrition. Anosmia can also lead to depression because it may impair one’s ability to smell or taste pleasurable foods. Anosmia is frequently caused by a swelling or blockage in the nose that prevents odours from getting to the top of the nose. Anosmia is sometimes caused by a problem with the system that sends signals from the nose to the brain.

Epilepsy – refers to a group of disorders of the brain chacterised by seizures. They can be short, recurrent, periodic attacks of motor, sensory or psychological malfunction. The cause can be unknown or can result from a head injury, brain tumour or stroke and seizures are often aggravated by physical or emotional stress or lack of sleep. Other triggers can be certain drugs, infections, fever, and low blood sugar.

Cerebral Palsy– is a disorder characterised by muscular incoordination and loss of muscle control. It results in a lack of balance, abnormal posture, muscle spasticity and speech impairment. It can sometimes also result in mental retardation and is caused by damage to the motor areas of the brain during foetal life, birth, or infancy. It is not a progressive disease.

Motor Neurone Disease– is the degeneration of the motor system. It leads to the progressive weakness and wasting away of muscles and eventual paralysis. Both skeletal and smooth muscle, such as those involved in breathing and swallowing are affected. It does not affect the senses.

Parkinson’s Disease– is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system and its cause is unknown buts its symptoms are thought to be due to an imbalance in neurotransmitter activity. Symptoms include involuntary skeletal muscle contractions such as a tremor or rigidity, impaired motor performance and slow muscular movements.

Nerve Disorders:

Bell’s Palsy – is a sudden weakness or paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face. It is the result of the malfunction of the facial nerve (cranial nerve VII) and although its cause is often unknown it may be caused by infection.

Multiple Sclerosis – is a disorder in which patches of myelin and underlying nerve fibres in the eyes, brain and spinal cord are damaged or destroyed. There is weakness, numbness, tremors, loss of vision, pain, fatigue, paralysis, loss of balance and loss of bladder and bowel function. It is thought to be and autoimmune disease.

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