The 15 Most Common Nervous System Diseases

The nerves that run through our body can be affected by many health problems.

When we talk about the nervous system, we usually think of the brain, and it is indeed one of the most important elements that constitute it. 

However, the brain alone would be unable to interact and control the different organs and allow us to move and perform behaviors that facilitate our adaptation, or even survival, if there were not an entire system dedicated to it. We are talking about the entire nervous system.

Its correct functioning is vital for the human being. However, there are different disorders and diseases that can jeopardize its proper functioning and greatly limit our abilities, and even cause death. Therefore, in this article we are going to talk about different types of nervous system diseases.

Diseases of the nervous system

There are a large number of disorders and diseases that affect the nervous system. 

Although diseases that affect the brain and cerebellum can also be considered as such, in this article we will try to focus on those that cause an effect on the entire nervous system, both at the central and peripheral nervous system level.

1. Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a disorder produced by a hyperactivation of certain neuronal groups which for some reason are hypersensitized, and with minimal activation they react abnormally producing various symptoms such as the typical seizures (although these only occur in the case of major seizures). bad), loss of consciousness, lack of coordination and lack of control of the muscles and viscera, slowness and weakness.

2. Tumors

There are a large number of tumors that can affect the nervous system, whether they originate in it or if it is affected by the metastasis of a cancer in another part of the body. Within these tumors we can find astrocytomas, glioblastomas, gliomas, meningiomas or medulloblastomas, among others.

The damage is caused both by cell proliferation and by the breaking of synaptic connections or the compression of neurons against other structures.

3. Cloistered syndrome

This strange syndrome has its origin in lesions of the brainstem or in the nerve connections. The subject is conscious but cannot communicate or move due to the lack of nerve connection between the brain and other parts of the body.

4. Multiple sclerosis

Demilinizing disorders are a group of disorders in which the axons of neurons progressively lose the substance called myelin, which is of great importance when it comes to transferring bioelectric impulses through the nervous system.  

This causes the body to gradually lose the ability to send messages efficiently to the body, producing symptoms such as muscle tension, weakness, pain and perceptual disturbances.

5. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

In this disease there is a progressive deterioration of the motor cells of the nervous system, dying these little by little. Thus, over time the muscles stop receiving nerve impulses and end up atrophy. This prevents voluntary movement.  

Likewise, as the disorder progresses, it can eventually affect the heart and respiratory muscles and cause death.

6. Diabetic neuropathies and other metabolic disorders

The presence of metabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus can cause serious damage to nerves and neurons throughout the body. The nerve fibers are damaged, in addition to the fact that the blood vessels cannot correctly direct the flow due to the incorrect metabolism of glucose. 

In the case of diabetes, these problems are especially visible in the extremities, especially in the lower ones. It can also affect organs such as the eyes or even the heart.

7. Infections

Infectious diseases can greatly affect the set of neurons and structures that make up the nervous system. HIV and untreated syphilis can disrupt and damage neurons. Also the herpes simplex virus, cytomegalovirus and rabies. Encephalitis, meningitis, immunodeficiency that facilitates the action of other viruses, and necrosis and neuronal death are common.

8. Dementias

This type of nervous system disease, especially localizable in the brain, is characterized by a progressive degradation and loss of neurons and their normal functioning that causes the loss of different cognitive and motor skills. 

Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or Huntington’s chorea are diseases that lead or can lead (not all people with Parkinson’s develop dementia as such, for example) the progressive deterioration of nerve fibers.

9. Mononeuropathies

Injury to a peripheral nerve by various mechanisms, such as continued compression, the presence of infections or bleeding or sectioning.

10. Polyneuropathies

Inflammatory process of various nerves or nervous tracts that generate a variety of symptoms such as tingling or loss of control and sensation, muscle atrophy, weakness, diarrhea, erection disorder or cardiorespiratory disorders, among others.

11. Trauma and sectioning

Although these are not diseases per se, the presence of  blows and injuries can cause the nerves and neurons present in different parts of the body to be damaged and unable to perform their functions on a regular basis. 

Perception or control of muscle groups or even relevant organs may be lost. Depending on the type of injury, it can even lead to cardiac arrest and death.

12. Guillain-Barré syndrome and other autoimmune diseases

Some autoimmune diseases, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, can cause our immune system to attack the nerves of the nervous system, which damages them and makes it difficult or impossible for the transmission of nerve signals.

13. Autonomic dysreflexia

A disease caused by spinal cord injury and an overactivation of the autonomic nervous system, as well as a spectacular and dangerous increase in blood pressure  due to the difficulty in regulating blood pressure in non-innervated areas, below the injury medullary.

14. Monoplegia, hemiplegia and tetraplegia

The sectioning or damage of nerve fibers in the nervous system can cause paralysis of specific parts of the body. This paralysis can occur in a specific point of the body (monoplegia), on one side of the body (hemiplegia) or even in the set of extremities (tetraplegia), making movement and even tactile perception of these areas impossible.

15. Neuralgia

Neuralgia are a group of diseases and disorders of the nervous system that are characterized by the presence of pain derived from a malfunction, impingement or alteration of the nerve pathways linked to the perception of pain.

Bibliographic references:

  • Adams, RD (1997). Principles of Neurology. 6th edition. McGraw-Hill.
  • Bannister, C, Tew, B. (1991). Current Concepts in Spina Bificla & Hydrocephalus. London: Mac Keith Press.

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