Presse Santé

When should I see a neurologist?

A neurologist is recommended for organic diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nervous system, and muscles. Neurologists treat the whole person and help patients with chronic neurological diseases.

Here are the different typical neurological diseases:

  • Cerebral vascular accidents as well as cerebral hemorrhages.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Consciousness and memory disorders, dementia.
  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Dizziness.
  • Sleep disorders.
  • Diseases of the nerves and nerve roots, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and spinal disc problems.
  • Polyneuropathy.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome.
  • Back pain.

What are the signs that I should see a neurologist?

Discomfort in certain parts of the body, paresis, instability when standing or walking, loss of consciousness, or unusual headaches are reasons to see a neurologist. A neurologist should also be consulted if a person suffers from migraines, back pain, or other chronic pain. It should be noted that people may experience or perceive very different symptoms.

Dizziness, changes in hearing and speech, loss of vision: Neurological symptoms can affect all the sensory organs of the body. Tremors, muscle stiffness, muscle weakness, and back pain radiating to the legs and arms should be investigated.

The onset of dementia can manifest as confusion, increased forgetfulness, loss of daily skills, and behavioral changes. At first, the person suffers from short-term memory lapses and disorientation. Often, people affected by the disease tend to withdraw into themselves to hide their state of weakness.

What is the role of the neurologist?

Discuss the patient’s symptoms in detail (documenting their medical history) to make an overall assessment. During a head-to-toe clinical neurological exam, the neurologist looks for outward symptoms and tests nerve reflexes, paying attention to the person’s gait and posture to determine if there are any disorders affecting their ability to balance. The exam can also identify skin and muscle changes, as well as injuries (falls).

The human being has 12 cranial nerves. The function of these nerves can be affected by disease, injury, or inflammation of the brain. As each cranial nerve has a very specific function, it can be examined by functional tests (smell, taste, vision, sound, facial muscles, etc.). During a neurological exam, the doctor will also periodically assess the person’s mental and psychological abilities. A memory test may also be performed if there appear to be any abnormalities.

Likely diagnoses:

Depending on the results, additional diagnostics may be performed, including laboratory blood and urine tests, or removal of cerebrospinal fluid from the spinal canal (lumbar puncture).

  • NCV: measure of nerve conduction velocity.
  • EEG: Measurement of brain waves (electroencephalography).
  • EMG: measurement of muscle activity (electromyography).
  • Evoked Potentials: Every sensory stimulus in the body triggers brain activity that can be measured.
  • Doppler and duplex ultrasound: Ultrasonic examinations of the vessels and the brain.
  • CT, MRI, PET: other brain imaging methods
  • dementia tests

After carrying out the necessary investigations on a case-by-case basis, it is usually possible to diagnose one of the aforementioned neurological diseases as the cause.

If, for example, it turns out to be a circulatory disorder in the brain (stroke), regular monitoring of risk factors and cerebral vessels (ultrasound) is also necessary as part of further treatment (usually medication).

The procedure is the same if, for example, multiple sclerosis is diagnosed as the cause of the symptoms. Once acute treatment is started, regular clinical check-ups and follow-up with imaging and other preventive treatments are necessary.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information provided can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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