List of Neurological Symptoms
This article presents a list of neurological symptoms, according to the classification of neurological symptoms by function of the Nervous system. Though not to create boredom with just a simple list, this article also offers an easy-to-understand view of the nervous system, defining how it works, what is a neurological symptom, what the types of neurological symptoms are, and why they occur.
Introduction to the Nervous System
The nervous system is a complex and fascinating organ system that functions to integrate, coordinate and respond to the different inner and external stimuli the subject receives every moment of their lives.
This might sound a little too abstract, isn’t it? Let’s make it concrete.
A simple and straightforward example of your nervous system in action is you reading this article. Your eyes receive the light stimulus of your screen, and the stimulus travels via the optic nerves to the posterior part of your brain. There, the stimulus is integrated with several other parts of the brain and your motor system.
This allows you to scroll through the article while you read, think, and try to understand what I am explaining at the same time. Moreover, you have tons of information from processes you are not conscious of, like the coordination of your heart and respiratory system and the function and movement of your digestive tract, among others.
How is the Nervous System Organized?
Anatomically, the nervous system can be divided into the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system:
- Central nervous system: it is composed of the encephalon (brain, brain stem, and cerebellum) and the spinal cord.
- Peripheral nervous system: it is composed of the cranial nerves and the peripheral nerves.
- Special senses: the nervous system is closely related to the organs that provide us with the senses, like the eyes, auditory apparatus, vestibular system (balance and spatial orientation), and olfactory system.
We mentioned that there are processes we are conscious of and others of which we are not aware. This aspect differentiates two functional characteristics of the nervous system:
- The somatic nervous system comprises those functions that we are aware of and have conscious control of, like moving an arm or blinking an eye.
- The Vegetative or Autonomic nervous system performs activities we are not aware of, such as cardiac, respiratory, and digestive functions, hormonal signaling, and muscle tone, among others.
What is a Neurological Symptom?
A neurological symptom is a manifestation perceived and experienced by a person that is an uncommon and often unpleasant sensation originating or affecting one or more structures of the Nervous System.
What are the Different Types of Neurological Symptoms?
- Sensory symptoms;
- Motor symptoms;
- Cognitive symptoms;
- Sleep symptoms;
- Mental and emotional symptoms;
- Autonomic symptoms.
List of Neurological Signs and Symptoms
- Hypoacusia (decreased hearing);
- Facial Pain;
- Loss of touch sensation;
- Double vision;
- Loss of smell;
- Tingling or burning sensation in extremities;
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears);
- Loss of taste;
- Vertigo (spinning-motion sensation).
- Gait difficulties;
- Loss of strength in a muscle or muscle group;
- Shakes in extremities or abnormal movements;
- Epileptic movements (like seizures);
- Rigidity (increased muscle tone);
- Muscle contractures.
- Altered language (aphasia) either producing or understanding language;
- Memory loss.
- Night terrors or paralysis.
- Syncope (sudden loss of consciousness);
- Dry mouth and other mucous membranes;
- Profuse sweating;
- Pale skin;
- Increased heart rate.
Mental and Emotional Symptoms
- Personality changes;
- Abrupt changes in mood;
- Intense or unexplained fear.
What are the Causes of Neurological Symptoms?
Neurological symptoms could be caused by a variety of diseases that can be classified as follows:
- Vascular conditions: This group includes stroke, intracerebral bleeding, blood vessel inflammation (vasculitis), malformations of blood vessels (aneurysms, arterio-venous malformation, cavernomas), and arterial dissections (tear in the arterial walls), among others.
- Trauma: Trauma to the head, spine, or limbs (affecting peripheral nerves) can cause neurological symptoms.
- Infections: Various types of infections can affect the nervous system, including meningitis, encephalitis, cerebral abscess, HIV infection, spinal infections, parasitic infections, and other viral infections.
- Genetic conditions and congenital malformations of the Nervous system.
- Inflammatory conditions: Several diseases are produced by excess inflammation in the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis, myelitis, or Guillain-Barre syndrome.
- Tumors: Abnormal growth of cells can be present in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. However, a tumor in the nearby structures might also affect the nervous system, such as a tumor growing from the cranial bones.
- Structural abnormalities: This group includes conditions such as hydrocephalus, in which a blockage of the Cerebro-Spinal Fluid (CSF) flow causes increased pressure in the head.
- Neurodegeneration: Neurodegeneration is a process in which the nervous tissue deteriorates progressively, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and Huntington’s disease.
Why do Neurological Symptoms Occur?
Neurological Symptoms have their origin in the structures affected by disease processes. The disease process can produce an increase or decrease in the activity of the affected structure.
For example, a stroke from a blood clot damaging the motor cortex (the area of the brain that controls movement) will produce a loss of function, i.e., an arm moving poorly or not moving; a seizure caused by irritation of nerve cells from a tumor or exposure to blood on the surface of the brain in the same place results in hyperexcitation (increases the response) of the neurons, i.e., the arm will have tonic-clonic movements, characteristic of seizures.
A straightforward view of the nervous system is comparing it to an electrical system. Neurons are like electrical nodes and send signals to other neurons via axons (wires). If the wire or the node gets damaged, no signal and, consequently, no function will be seen. If the structures get increased signals, they will over-respond.
In conclusion, the nervous system is a complex and essential organ system that performs various functions, including coordinating and integrating responses to internal and external stimuli.
Neurological symptoms can manifest in different forms and are the expression of a problem in the Nervous System structures.
The neurological symptoms and signs are clues that doctors follow to make a diagnosis and are the evidence for starting the investigation.
- Fustinoni, O., & Fustinoni, J. C. (2016). Semiologia del sistema nervioso (15th ed.). El Ateneo. https://books.google.com.ar/books/about/Semiologia_del_Sistema_Nervioso.html?id=YipbAAAACAAJ&redir_esc=y
- List of neurological conditions and disorders. In: Wikipedia [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Apr 29]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_neurological_conditions_and_disorders&oldid=1134962415
- Overview of Nervous System Disorders [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Apr 29]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/overview-of-nervous-system-disorders
- Nervous system [Internet]. Kenhub. [cited 2023 Apr 29]. Available from: https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/the-nervous-system