Understanding Brain Disorders: Symptoms, Causes & Diagnosis
The brain is the primary control center of the body. It is one of the components of the nervous system. The other part of the nervous system is the spinal cord and an extensive network of neurons and nerves. The nervous system controls everything in the body, from your senses to muscles.
Damage to the brain can affect many things in the human body, including sensation, memory, and personality. Brain disorders are disabilities or feelings that affect your brain. Factors including: may cause brain disorders
- Traumatic injury
Brain disorders are a broad category of disorders. They vary significantly in severity and symptoms. Read on to learn more about the significant types of brain disorders.
Types of brain disorders
Most cases of brain injuries are caused by blunt trauma. Trauma to the brain damages the neuron, nerves, and tissue. Damage to these parts can affect your brain’s ability to communicate with other parts of your body. The following are some examples of brain injuries:
- Blood clots
- Cerebral edema (swelling within the skull)
- Contusions (also known as bruising of the brain tissue)
Symptoms of a brain injury may include:
- Speech difficulty
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
The following complications may develop later as the disease progresses:
- Irregular breathing
- Dilation of the pupils
- A low heart rate
- High blood pressure
Treatment depends on the type of injury you have. These may include rehabilitation, brain surgery, or medication.
At least half of the people with brain injuries may require surgery to repair or remove damaged tissue or relieve pressure. However, people with minor injuries may not need more than pain medication to ease the condition.
Many individuals with brain injuries require rehabilitation. Types of rehabilitation may include:
- Speech therapy and language therapy
- Physical therapy
Tumors may sometimes form in the brain. Brain tumors are usually very dangerous. Brain tumors may be primary or secondary. Secondary brain tumors may originate elsewhere in the body and spread to the brain. Primary tumors also form inside the brain itself.
Brain tumors may be malignant or benign (cancerous or noncancerous, respectively). Medically, brain tumors are classified as grades 1 – 4. The higher the number, the more aggressive the tumor.
The primary cause of brain tumors is unknown. Brain tumors can occur in people of any age. The symptom of a brain tumor may depend on the location and size of the tumor. Common symptoms of brain tumor include:
- Tingling or numbness in your legs or arms
- Personality changes
- Changes in vision, speech, or hearing
Your treatment will depend on several factors, including the size of the tumor, your age, and your health.
The main treatments for brain tumors are:
- Radiation therapy
Neurodegenerative diseases cause deterioration of the nerves and brain over time. They can cause confusion as well as a change in your personality. Neurodegenerative diseases can also destroy your brain’s nerves and tissues.
A person may develop brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease as they age. They can impair your thought processes and memory gradually. Other conditions like Tay-Sachs disease may develop as well. Tay-Sachs disease is a genetic condition that begins at an early age. Other examples of neurodegenerative diseases include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Lou Gehrig’s disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
- All forms of dementia
Common symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases include:
Some neurodegenerative diseases may cause permanent damage to the brain. Symptoms may worsen as the disease progresses. New symptoms may develop over time.
It is important to note that there is no cure for neurodegenerative ailments. The goal of treatment is to reduce the symptoms and improve the quality of life. The patient is usually treated with medications that help to control the symptoms.
Mental disorders (also known as mental illnesses) are a diverse group of conditions that affect your behavior. Frequently diagnosed mental disorders include:
Symptoms of mental disorders vary. In addition, different people may have different experiences of the same mental disorders. Therefore, you must consult your healthcare provider if you notice changes in your thought patterns, moods, or behavior.
Medication and psychotherapy are the two primary treatments for mental disorders. Different methods work better for various conditions. A combination of both usually proves effective for many people.
If you suspect a mental disorder, talk to your healthcare provider to create the best treatment plan for your condition. Avoid self-medication as much as you can.
Risk factors for brain disorders
Anyone can be affected by a brain disorder. However, there are different risk factors for different types of brain disorders.
Traumatic brain injury mainly affects children under the age of 4, young adults between 15 and 25 years of age, and adults over 65.
The primary risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases are family history and older age.
Mental disorders are also prevalent. At least 1 in 5 American adults have experienced a mental health condition. Your risk factor increases if you:
- Have a traumatic brain injury or have had one in the past
- Have a history of drug or alcohol misuse
- There’s a history of mental illness in your family
Diagnosing brain disorders
A brain disorder may be diagnosed by a neurological specialist or a primary care physician.
Your healthcare provider will perform a neurological exam to test your vision, balance, and hearing. In addition, images of your brain may be obtained to assist in diagnosis. Standard diagnostic imaging techniques include PET scans, MRI, and CT.
Fluid from your spinal cord and brain may also be tested. This will help your doctor to find infection or bleeding in the brain.
Diagnosis of mental health disorders is usually based on evaluating your history and symptoms.
What’s the prognosis of a brain disorder?
The prognosis depends on the type of brain disorder and the severity. However, some conditions can be treated with therapy and medication.
There is no cure for some disorders, like traumatic brain injuries and neurodegenerative diseases. People with these conditions may face permanent changes in their mental abilities, coordination, and behavior. Treatments, in these cases, may help with symptom management.
Tonika Bruce, MSN, RN, MBA. is an accomplished nurse leader, published author, and personal development expert passionate about advancing healthcare management and quality patient outcomes.
She taps into the years of experience in healthcare management to produce credible and easy-to-understand health and leadership content. Her exceptional work has been featured in reputable publications, including Forbes, Recruiter, Inc, and the Color of Wellness magazine.