You're familiar with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and they're probably the conditions that come to mind when you think of neurological disorders. But there are many other diseases and conditions that affect the brain and its ability to control the body. Some are chronic, progressive, or life-threatening, while others are manageable conditions that people live with every day. And some can come out of nowhere to strike once or a few times, then vanish just as mysteriously. Here’s a guide to 7 common neurological conditions to be on the lookout for.
Also called seizure disorder, epilepsy is diagnosed when someone experiences repeated seizures that don't have another specific cause, such as a stroke. When you think of seizure, you probably picture the jerky, out-of-control movements, collapsing, and thrashing depicted onscreen. But confusion and disorientation, staring sightlessly, garbling speech, and losing consciousness (sometimes while not appearing to do so) are also symptoms of a seizure. In particular, children are likely to suffer from "absence seizures," in which they stare into space, sometimes making repeated movements such as smacking their lips or blinking their eyes. Many epileptics experience partial seizures, also called focal seizures, that affect just one section of the brain. These seizures cause a wide range of sensory and physical symptoms, such as seeing or hearing things that aren't there, noticing a sudden unpleasant odor or taste in the mouth, or uncontrolled movements such as one finger or limb stiffening or jerking. People with epilepsy typically have a pattern, repeating the same type of seizure they've had in the past. Many things can trigger seizures, from stress or sleep deprivation to alcohol and certain foods. Some epileptics are more likely to have seizures at night or at a certain time during the day. Reflex epilepsy refers to seizures triggered by flashing lights, video games, or certain kinds of repetitive sounds, or even touching specific points on the body.