Disorders

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Sleep Apnea and Other Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders, including snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome are very common. They are also incredibly debilitating because not only do they affect your sleep habits, but the issues carry through to the daytime as you are deprived of the proper amount of sleep. Quality sleep is necessary for optimal health and can affect, mood, weight, and hormone levels.

Identifying the underlying causes of your sleeping problem is the best thing you can do to help yourself. Do you feel irritable or tired during the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating? Do you require caffeinated beverages often? These seemingly normal feelings could actually be symptoms of a sleep disorder.

If you suspect you have a sleep disorder, there are simple tests and studies that can identify your issues, and set you on a course for a better night’s sleep and a healthier life.

Some Signs of Sleep Disorders:
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Loud snoring at night
  • Waking up
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches upon waking
  • Unintentional sleep
  • Acting out dreams
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Epilepsy

Epilepsy is also known as a seizure disorder. It is a neurological condition that affects the nervous system, and is usually diagnosed after a person has had multiple seizures that were not a product of an existing medical condition.

There are several types of epileptic seizures including Generalized or Grand Mal seizures in which all areas of the brain are involved, Partial or Focal seizures where only one part of the brain is involved, or Absence seizures, which are most common in children. Absence seizures can often go undetected because they only last a few seconds.

Seizure signs and symptoms can present in many different ways, and do not always indicate epilepsy. An Electroencephalogram is the most common way to test for epilepsy, and does so by measuring electrical impulses in the brain. If you are in fact diagnosed, epilepsy is in most cases effectively treated with medication.

Some potential factors that could have led to the patient becoming epileptic can include the following:

  • Genetics
  • Head Trauma (ex. car accident)
  • Brain Conditions
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Prenatal Injury
  • Developmental Disorders (ex. autism)
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Stroke

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted or reduced. This deprives your brain of oxygen and nutrients, which can cause your brain cells to die. A blocked artery or the leaking or bursting of a blood vessel can cause a stroke.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in America, and the leading cause of adult disability. There are both lifestyle and medical risk factors that raise one’s chances of having a stroke. Being overweight, physically inactive, and abusing drugs and alcohol increase your risk, as well as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

A stroke is a medical emergency and the faster you can react, the better. Remembering the acronym F.A.S.T. is the best way to quickly identify the symptoms of a stroke.

F: Facial Drooping
A: Arm Weakness
S: Speech Difficulty
T: Time to Call 9-1-1 if the first three symptoms are present.

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Dementia

Dementia is not one disease, but rather a group of symptoms affecting memory, social abilities, and thinking that interfere with daily functioning. Memory loss alone does not indicate dementia. There must be a problem with a least two brain functions, such as memory loss combined with the inability to perform daily tasks, and impaired judgment or language. The causes of Dementia are sometimes reversible, such as vitamin deficiency.

Other symptoms include personality changes, paranoia, or inappropriate behavior. Because dementia involves the nerve cells in the brain, it affects everyone differently depending on which areas of the brain are involved.

Alzheimer’s disease which is the most common cause of progressive dementia, and Vascular dementia which is caused by restricted blood flow to the brain, are not reversible and worsen over time. It is very important to have a doctor determine your exact type of dementia so a treatment plan can be put into action.

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Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects your movement. It develops gradually, starting with small, barely detectable tremors, and worsens over time. But while a tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinson’s disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement, and slurred speech.

A detailed neurological examination needs to be conducted in order to make a diagnosis. Once your agility, muscle tone, gait, and balance is assessed, you could be put on medication that imitates or stimulates the production of Dopamine. Parkinson’s disease sufferers tend to have low levels of Dopamine, which causes abnormal brain activity, leading to the symptoms.

Sleep disorders are also very prevalent in Parkinson’s disease.

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Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a result of damage to your peripheral nerves. Your peripheral nervous system sends information from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body. Peripheral neuropathy can result from traumatic injuries, infections, and metabolic problems, but the most common cause is diabetes mellitus.

Peripheral neuropathy often causes weakness, numbness and pain, usually in your hands and feet, but it can also affect other areas of your body. The pain is typically described as stabbing, burning, or tingling. Symptoms can improve if the neuropathy is caused by a treatable underlying condition.

Because there are different classifications of nerves, the symptoms depend largely on what type of nerves are affected, Peripheral neuropathy may affect one nerve, two or more nerves in different areas, or many nerves.
A nerve function test is used to make a diagnosis.

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome, which is caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist, is a hand and arm condition that causes numbness, tingling and weakness. Symptoms usually present gradually with numbness or tingling in the thumb, index, and middle fingers.

In general, anything that compresses or irritates the median nerve can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Inflammatory conditions, which narrow the tunnel that protects the nerve, your general wrist and hand anatomy, as well as repetitive motion activities, are all contributing factors.

After a physical examination, your doctor could use an Electromyogram to evaluate the electrical activity of your muscles. This test helps to determine if muscle damage has occurred, and is also used to rule out other conditions. Fortunately, when carpal tunnel syndrome is treated properly, most people find that proper wrist and hand function is easily restored.

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Low Back Pain

The lower back is an intricate structure of connected and overlapping tendons, muscles, joints, disks, and soft tissues. It is also made up of highly sensitive nerves and nerve roots that start in the lower back, and connect into the feet. All these parts make it easy for something to go wrong. An irritation with any of these structures can cause lower back pain, or referred pain to other parts of the body.

Identifying the symptoms, along with an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause of the pain is the first step towards obtaining effective pain relief. Symptoms may include difficulty walking or standing, muscle spasms, localized soreness, and much more.

A diagnosis will typically classify the patient’s condition as either acute or chronic. This is important as patients can often experience one type of pain, and based on the progression of their condition, may experience the other.

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Headaches

A headache is any pain arising from the head or upper neck of the body. The pain originates from the tissues and structures that surround the brain. This pain may be a dull ache, sharp, throbbing, constant, mild, or intense. A headache can last less than an hour or for several days.

While typically benign, occasionally a headache can be an indicator of a more serious condition. Your headache symptoms can help your doctor determine the cause and the appropriate treatment. Headaches are generally classified by cause. Primary headaches include migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches are usually symptoms of an injury or an underlying illness.

If your headaches are accompanied by confusion, difficulty understanding speech, fainting, trouble seeing, nausea, or vomiting, this may indicate a more serious condition.