Nervous System

Nervous System

Your nervous system is your body’s command center. Originating from your brain,
it controls your movements, thoughts and automatic responses to the world
around you. It also controls other body systems and processes, such as digestion,
breathing and sexual development (puberty). Diseases, accidents, toxins and the
natural aging process can damage your nervous system.

What is the nervous system?
Your nervous system guides almost everything you do, think, say or feel. It
controls complicated processes like movement, thought and memory. It also plays
an essential role in the things your body does without thinking, such as breathing,
blushing and blinking.
Your nervous system affects every aspect of your health, including your:
Sleep, healing and aging.
Heartbeat and breathing patterns.
Response to stressful situations.
Digestion, as well as how hungry and thirsty you feel.
Body processes, such as puberty.
Thoughts, memory, learning, and feelings.
Movements, such as balance and coordination.
Senses, including how your brain interprets what you see, hear, taste,
touch and feel.
This complex system is the command center for your body. It regulates
your body’s systems and allows you to experience your environment.
A vast network of nerves sends electrical signals to and from other cells,
glands, and muscles all over your body. These nerves receive information
from the world around you. Then the nerves interpret the information and
control your response. It’s almost like an enormous information highway
running throughout your body.

What does the nervous system do?

Your nervous system uses specialized cells called neurons to send signals, or
messages, all over your body. These electrical signals travel between your brain,
skin, organs, glands and muscles.
The messages help you move your limbs and feel sensations, such as pain. Your
eyes, ears, tongue, nose and the nerves all over your body take in information
about your environment. Then nerves carry that data to and from your brain.

What conditions and disorders affect the nervous system?
Thousands of disorders and conditions can affect your nerves. An injured nerve
has trouble sending a message. Sometimes it’s so damaged that it can’t send or
receive a message at all. Nerve injury can cause numbness, a pins-and-needles
feeling or pain. It may be difficult or impossible for you to move the area that’s
Nerve damage can happen in several ways. Some of the most common causes of
nerve damage include:
Disease: Many infections, cancers, and autoimmune diseases
like diabetes, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can cause nervous system
problems. Diabetes can lead to diabetic neuropathy, causing tingling and
pain in the legs and feet. A condition called multiple sclerosis attacks the
myelin around nerves in the CNS.
Stroke: A stroke happens when one of the brain’s blood vessels becomes
blocked or suddenly bursts. Without enough blood, part of the brain dies.
Then it can’t send messages via nerves. A stroke can cause nerve damage
ranging from mild to severe.
Accidental injury: Nerves can be crushed, stretched, or cut in an accident.
Car crashes and falls are common injuries that can damage nerves
anywhere in your body.
Pressure: If a nerve is pinched or compressed, it can’t get enough blood to
do its job. Nerves can be pinched or trapped for many reasons, such as
overuse (as in carpal tunnel syndrome), a tumor, or structural problems
like sciatica.                                                                                                                 
Aging process: As you get older, your neurons’ signals may not travel as
fast as they used to. You may feel weaker, and your reflexes may slow
down. Some people lose sensation in their fingers, toes or other parts of
their body.

How common are these conditions?
Some causes of nerve damage occur more frequently than others. They include:
Diabetes: This disorder of the endocrine system causes nerve damage
called diabetic neuropathy. Around 30 million Americans have diabetes and
nearly 50% of them have some nerve damage. Diabetic neuropathy usually
affects the arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers and toes.
Lupus: About 1.5 million Americans live with lupus, and 15% of them have
experienced nerve damage.
Rheumatoid arthritis: People with rheumatoid arthritis can also develop
neuropathy. Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than 1.3 million people in
the U.S. It’s one of the most common forms of arthritis.
Stroke: Around 800,000 Americans have a stroke every year. Strokes occur
more often in people over age 65.

Neurological Diseases & Disorders
There are more than 600 neurologic diseases. Major types include:
Diseases caused by faulty genes, such as Huntington disease and muscular
Problems with the way the nervous system develops, such as spina bifida.
Degenerative diseases, where nerve cells are damaged or die, such as Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease.
Diseases of the blood vessels that supply the brain, such as stroke.
Injuries to the spinal cord and brain.
Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy.


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