Explore the differences between signs and symptoms and which signs and symptoms are commonly attributed to nervous system dysfunction and disease, including amnesia and ataxia.
Realizing There’s a Problem
The easiest way you can tell there’s a problem within your body is if something radically changes overnight or you notice that over time you can no longer do something that you could do well before, like walk normally or feel a certain sensation.These types of signs and symptoms may be a result of nervous system dysfunction, and we’ll go over some of the major ones commonly attributed to nervous system disease.
Signs and Symptoms
But before we do that, I want to define some important terms.
There’s a difference between a medical sign and a medical symptom. A sign is an objective, or measurable, problem noted by the patient or another observer such as a doctor, whereas a symptom is a subjective experience noticed only by the patient him or herself and cannot be objectively quantified.Here are some very well-known examples for you. Pain is a symptom. It is something you feel, and no one will know about it unless you vocalize this feeling. In contrast, if you use a thermometer to come up with a number that tells you a person has a fever, then the high reading on the thermometer is a sign of a fever.Signs and symptoms don’t always have to go together.
For example, a blood pressure cuff and gauge can detect the sign of high blood pressure, but the person may not have any symptoms of this problem apparent to them internally, meaning they can’t really feel any effects of this high blood pressure despite their doctor noticing a sign of its presence.Additionally, common signs and symptoms don’t always go hand in hand. A person may feel hot but not have a fever. A person may fall but not necessarily because they feel dizzy.You get the point.
Signs and Symptoms of Neurological Disorders
Noting all of that, let’s go over the major signs and symptoms of neurological disorders. Amnesia, which is total or partial loss of memory, can occur. Difficulty speaking, swallowing, or thinking are also common problems. Loss of coordination or balance may result from neurological disorders, as well.In the case of the latter, a person may be unable to stand up or walk without swinging one way or another.
We term this ataxia, which more technically is defined as improper muscular coordination during movement.Other problems associated with neurological disorders are either rigid, weak, or muscles that tremor. The reason the muscles are affected like this is because the nerves that supply them are afflicted by a disease or a toxin that causes improper signaling to the muscles, resulting in their weakness, rigidity, or tremors.Think about that game in a local carnival or game zone where you have to spray water from a gun at a target to move a little person faster than your opponents.
If you don’t spray the water at all, the signal to the person to move never gets there. This is synonymous with muscle weakness. If you pull the trigger back and forth in a haphazard fashion, the person will move with a jerk from that crazy signaling, akin to muscle tremors.
But if you never let go of the trigger, the person will eventually get to the end but no longer be able to move any further. That’s because you over-signaled and caused the game to freeze up, just like muscles freeze up and become rigid from too many signals.Another common issue associated with nerve damage, as a result of things like trauma, is the inability to sense things like pressure or pain, anymore. Nerves do more than just send signals out from the brain and spinal cord to places like your muscles, as we just discussed.
Your nerves are also responsible for the sensation of sight, sound, pressure, pain, taste, and heat. If they are damaged or diseased, they will be unable to send signals of these sensations up to your brain. Since your brain never gets the signal of a sensation, then you don’t feel it anymore.This is analogous to a video game controller where a button on the controller no longer works. The button is a like a nerve’s receptor that senses a certain cue.
In this case, it’s the push of a button, or the pressure you exert on that button. Since the button isn’t working, the video game character on your TV screen doesn’t do what you want it to do, precisely because it never gets the signal to do so.But there’s a whole lot more that can be seen in people with nervous system disorders. If any asymmetry in a tissue or organ exists, that may be due to one-sided nerve damage. For instance, if one side of a person’s face has a dilated and enlarged pupil, while the other pupil is constricted and small, or if one arm is much thinner than the other, this may be due to nerve damage resulting from everything from a stroke to trauma.
Regrettably, there are many problems that can occur due to a nervous system disorder. And if you spot any of these signs or symptoms in yourself or another person, make sure to get proper medical attention right away!A sign is an objective or measurable problem noted by the patient or another observer, such as a doctor, whereas a symptom is a subjective experience noticed by the patient him or herself and cannot be objectively quantified.Signs and symptoms commonly attributed to nervous system dysfunction include amnesia (which is total or partial loss of memory), ataxia (which is improper muscular coordination during movement), muscle tremors, rigidity, or weakness, as well as decreased sensations and problems talking or swallowing.
You should have the ability to do the following after watching this video lesson:
- Differentiate between a sign and a symptom
- Define ataxia and amnesia
- Describe the common signs and symptoms associated with nervous system dysfunction