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Diseases of the Nervous System

Diseases of the Nervous System

Our nervous system is similar to the processor of a computer system. Diseases of the nervous system adversely affect the information processing and transmission functions of the brain and this has a chaotic, long-standing impact upon the entire biological system.
Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
The entire nervous system can be broadly classified into the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system comprises the brain and the spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves and the mass of nerve cells, collectively known as ganglia, that are on the outer peripheries of the brain and the spinal cord. This system includes the cranial nerves, the visceral nervous system, the somatic nervous system and the sensory system. Unlike the central nervous system which is encased within the safety of the bones of the spine, skull and the blood-brain barrier, the nerves and the various sub-systems of the peripheral nervous system lie on the outskirts of the primary skeletal structure and are, therefore, more vulnerable to injuries and toxins. Diseases of the nervous system affect both the central as well as the peripheral nervous system, though differently.

Diseases and Disorders of the Nervous System

Nervous system diseases and disorders may be caused due to genetic conditions, autoimmune disorders, traumas, mechanical injuries, infections, malignant growths such as tumors, cellular degenerations, strokes and structural defects. There are some diseases that directly affect the nervous system, such as rabies, while there are others that start as a disease in some other organ but eventually find their way to the nerves and brain, such as an HIV infection (which may blunt the mnemonic and cognitive abilities of the patient, though the viral mechanism for affecting the brain is still being researched).

Then again, there are degenerative diseases of the nervous system which lead to a progressive dysfunction of the nervous system as the various parts and cells start dying or losing their functions with the onset of such a disease. Parkinson's disease is a very good example of a neurodegenerative disease. Continuing on this note, let's take a look at a list of some diseases of the nervous system.

  • Wallenberg Syndrome
  • Wilson's Disease
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
  • Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
  • Neuritis
  • Neuralgia
  • Sciatica
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (incorrectly believed as the human equivalent of the Mad Cow Disease)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Meningitis
  • Stroke
  • Paralysis
  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome
  • Acoustic Neroma
  • Spinal Cord Astrocytoma
  • Lymphoma of the Spinal Cord
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Giloma of the Spinal Cord
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Bell's Palsy
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Pituitary Adenoma
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Syndrome (also known as Boder-Sedgwick Syndrome and Louis-Bar Syndrome)
  • Tuberous Sclerosis
  • Von Hippel-Lindau Disease
  • Poliomyelitis (commonly known as Polio and Infantile Paralysis)
  • Bulbar Palsy
  • Amyotrophic lateral Sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease)
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Causalgia
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Neuromyotonia (Isaac's Syndrome)
  • Neurasthenia
  • Stiff Person Syndrome (also known as Moersch-Woltman Condition)
  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Dyssomnias (narcolepsy, sleep apnea and many other sleep disorders)
  • Parasomnias
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases (such as vagus nerve disorder, facial nerve disease, optic nerve disease, etc.)
  • Horner's Syndrome
  • Autonomic Dysreflexia
  • Compensatory Hyperhidrosis
  • Frey's Syndrome
  • Adie Syndrome
  • Lewy Body Disease
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Prion Disease
  • Friedreich's Ataxia
  • Cerebral Edema
  • Rabies
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Broca Aphasia
  • Cerebello-Olivary Degeneration of Holmes
  • Choroid Plexus Papilloma
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Arachnoid Cysts
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Huntington's Disease
  • Motor Neurone Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Klüver-Buchy Syndrome
  • Locked-In Syndrome
  • Parinaud Syndrome
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Weber's Syndrome

Nervous system diseases often assume very grave proportions and their effect is manifold. The adverse effects of most of these disorders are not restricted to the affected area of the nervous system but often extend to various other biological organs and functions, depending upon what functions are controlled or regulated by the affected nerves or neurons. It is best to seek medical attention at the very first instance when any neural abnormality is suspected by way of a sudden change in the patient's behavior or any difficulty in performing regular physical or physiological functions. Early diagnosis is more than often the best way to stop the damage where it is embarked upon the healing process without letting the disease/disorder to progress further.