Frequently Asked Question

  • Frequently Asked Question

    What is a neurologist?

    Neurologists are those physicians whose interests and practice are devoted to the care of persons with disorders of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Neurologists diagnose and treat conditions of the brain (strokes, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis), spinal cord (tramatic injury, inflammatory disorders), motor neuron (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), neuromuscular junction (myasthenia gravis), muscle (muscular dystrophy, myositis), and peripheral nerve (Guillain-Barré syndrome, peripheral neuropathies).

    During the last half of the 20 th century, neurology grew from being a primarily diagnostic discipline to one in which pharmacological or other interventions are available for almost every neurological condition. Neurologists are now able to stop seizures, prevent or reduce the damage from strokes, ameliorate the abnormal movements of Parkinson’s disease, modify the natural history of multiple sclerosis, prolong useful function in Alzheimer’s disease, relieve painful neuropathies, and prevent crippling migraines. New and powerful diagnostic techniques range from imaging modalities that actually show the brain as it is functioning to genetic tests that can pinpoint rare diseases.

    How is a neurologist different than a brain surgeon? Do I need to have both?

    A neurologist is a physician who has received special training in the diagnosis and medical treatment of nervous system diseases. Neurologists do not do brain surgery.Neurosurgeons are physicians who have been specially trained to do surgery on nerves, the brain and the spinal cord.

    Persons who believe they may have a neurologic condition are usually referred to a neurologist first to diagnose their condition. If it is a condition for which neurosurgery is appropriate, the patient would then be referred to a neurosurgeon. However, there are many different types of neurologic conditions, and not all of them require surgery to treat. Should you require surgery after seeing a neurologist, the Department of Neurosurgery is dedicated to advancing the field of neurosurgery.

    What are the warning signs of stroke?

    Not everyone gets all of the following warning signs of stroke, you may only get one of the symptoms. And, sometimes these signs can go away and return. Treatment is most effective if given immediately when the symptoms begin. If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 right away!

    • * Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
    • * Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech;
    • * Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination;
    • * Sudden severe headache with no known cause;
    • * Blurred or double vision, drowsiness, and nausea or vomiting.

    How is a stroke prevented?

    The more stroke risk factors you have, the greater the chance that you will have a stroke. There are certain risk factors that cannot be controlled, such as aging, family health history, race and gender.

    Here are some of the best ways to prevent stroke:

    • * Eat a healthy diet low in saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Don't overeat, and keep your weight under control.
    • * Get regular exercise (30 minutes a day, most days of the week, or more).
    • * Find ways to manage stress in your life.
    • * If you have high blood pressure, take your blood pressure medicine as prescribed by your health care provider.
    • * If your cholesterol level is too high, talk to your health care provider about ways to lower it.
    • * If you smoke, stop smoking. If it is hard to quit on your own, there are products like nicotine patches, support groups, and programs to help you stop smoking.
    • * If you have heart disease or diabetes, take good care of yourself. See your health care provider and take your medicine as prescribed.
    • * Get help if you have a TIA ("mini-stroke"). Talk to your health care provider to see if you need medicine or surgery.
    • * Aspirin therapy may be useful, but check with your health care provider before starting to take aspirin on a daily basis.

    What is Parkinson's disease?

    Diagnosed in approximately 60,000 Americans every year (source: National Parkinson's Foundation), Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. Parkinson's disease affects nerve cells (neurons) in the part of the brain that controls muscle movement, leading to symptoms, such as trembling, rigidity, difficulty walking and problems with balance and coordination. In about 15 percent of cases, Parkinson's disease begins before age 50. For most people, the first symptoms develop after age 50, and the likelihood of developing Parkinson's disease continues to increase with age.

    Parkinson's disease is progressive, meaning the symptoms become worse over time. Although the disease may eventually be disabling, signs and symptoms usually develop gradually, and most people have many years of productive living after a diagnosis.

    What causes Parkinson's disease? What is Parkinson's disease?

    Since Parkinson's disease was first described nearly 200 years ago, researchers have been intensely studying the causes of this complex disorder. Parkinson's disease develops when certain nerve cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra are damaged or destroyed. Normally, these cells release dopamine - a chemical that transmits signals between the substantia nigra and another part of the brain, the corpus striatum. These signals cause your muscles to make smooth, controlled movements. Everyone loses some dopamine-producing neurons as they age, but people with Parkinson's disease lose at least 60 percent of neurons in the substantia nigra.

    Currently, scientists believe Parkinson's disease may result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including:

    • * Genetic factors. Research has revealed that people who have a parent, a sibling or a child who has or had Parkinson's disease are three times more likely to develop the disease themselves. If you have two such relatives with Parkinson's disease, your risk can increase as much as 10 times.

    • * Exposure to herbicides and pesticides can raise your risk of developing Parkinson's disease three times, but so far, no one has been able to connect a specific herbicide or pesticide to the disease.

    • * Medications. Drugs, such as haloperidol (Haldol) and chlorpromazine (Thorazine), which are prescribed for certain psychiatric disorders, and drugs used to treat nausea, such as metoclopramide (Reglan) and prochlorperazine (Compazine) can increase your risk of developing Parkinson's disease. The epilepsy drug valproate (Depacon) also may cause some of the features of parkinsonism. In fact, this drug is notorious for producing tremors, although these tremors are a little different from those seen in Parkinson's disease.

    • * Toxins. Exposure to manganese dust, the chemical MPTP - a byproduct of heroin production - among other toxins, can lead to parkinsonism. Scientists first became aware of MPTP-induced parkinsonism in the 1980s when heroin addicts using a street drug contaminated with MPTP developed all the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Still, toxin-related cases are extremely rare.

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