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When is the Right Time to Seek a Neurologist?

As you get older, the number of health problems and discomforts you feel is likely to increase. It can be difficult to determine what sensations are normal and which warrant a trip to a healthcare professional. 

Typically, a physician will be the one to help you find a neurologist if they suspect a neurological condition. When visiting with your primary care physician for annual checkups, you should share any concerns, even if minor. 

Being honest about any symptoms such as tremors, memory loss, mood changes, loss of libido, swallowing issues, and other ailments can be crucial. These annual trips add up over time, and allow a physician to recognize beginning signs of Parkinson’s disease, MCI, Alzheimer’s, or dementia.

Suppose you or your loved one are experiencing neurological symptoms, such as severe memory loss, chronic nerve pain, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness. In that case, a neurologist may help with pain management.

 In addition to pain management, neurologists can provide information on support groups, fitness classes, testing, and coping mechanisms.

An untreated neurological condition can change how you think, talk, and move. It is always best to get an early diagnosis to get proper care; a doctor can help treat symptoms. 

When Should I See a Neurologist?

Neurologists see people for a variety of reasons. If you or your senior loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, reach out to a physician.

Frequent Migraines

Having an occasional headache is not usually a cause for concern. However, if you have severe and frequent headaches, a neurologist can help you find the reason and find a way to manage them.

Symptoms of a migraine are throbbing pain, sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, and nausea.

Vertigo or Balance Issues

Dizziness and lightheadedness are symptoms of vertigo and can occur for numerous reasons. Perhaps you didn’t eat all day or haven’t gotten enough sleep. 

When things around you feel like they are spinning and it is challenging to keep your balance, it’s wise to determine why. Vertigo can occur with cardiovascular disease, head injuries, or Parkinson’s Disease. 

Vision Loss

Older adults tend to experience gradual vision loss and become susceptible to cataracts and glaucoma. When vision loss stems from nervous system issues, it is often due to Multiple sclerosis.

Seizures

To find the cause of seizures, a neurologist can do brain testing and imaging. While seizures are not always the result of a neurological disorder, it’s good to learn their cause, to determine how serious they are and how to manage them. 

Brain Injury or Spinal Cord Injury 

Falls and car accidents are two of the leading causes of brain and spinal cord injuries. If you or your loved one has had an accident, watch out for symptoms like headaches, dizziness, seizures, loss of consciousness, and loss of movement. 

A neurologist can come up with a treatment plan to help with symptoms. Depending on the severity of an injury, a treatment plan may include medication, physical therapy, and mental health therapy. 

Neuropathic Pain

When nerves are damaged from an injury or disease like diabetes, you may experience neuropathic pain. The pain may come and go, but it is often chronic. Over-the-counter and common pain medication does not stop the ache, tingling, and burning sensations a person with neuropathy experiences.  

Numbness or Weakness

There are many reasons for numbness and muscle weakness. It could be something as simple as a lack of blood circulation from the way you were sitting to something more complex like thyroid disease, neuromuscular disorder, or stroke. 

Mobility Problems

Unintentional jerking, difficulty walking, tremors, problems moving or maintaining balance can be signs of a nervous system problem. 

While these could also be side effects of medication or anxiety, you may want to see a neurologist if they affect your daily life. 

Serious Memory Loss

Some memory loss and forgetfulness are normal with aging, but it is an issue when it affects everyday life. A sudden cognitive decline could be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Sleeping Problems

Insomnia, anxiety, going to sleep too late, and sleep apnea are conditions that a neurologist doesn’t treat. But, they can help with neurological disorders like narcolepsy.

What to Expect During a Neurological Exam?

During a neurological exam, the nervous system will be evaluated using instruments, such as lights and reflex hammers. 

The extent of the neuro exam depends on the problems the patient is experiencing, the patient’s age, and the patient’s condition. 

The neurologist will test the following during an exam:

  • Motor skills 
  • Sensory skills
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Reflexes
  • Mental status
  • Functioning of the nerves 

A consultation should take no more than one hour for new patients, and a follow-up exam of no more than forty minutes.

Let’s look at an overview of how a neurologist may evaluate each of those areas on a patient. 

Mental Status

A neurologist will determine a patient’s level of awareness by talking with the patient and establishing their understanding of person, place, and time. While conversing, they will observe speech and how the patient interacts. 

Motor Function and Balance 

Motor function may be tested by having the patient push and pull against the neurologist’s hands with their arms and legs. 

Balance can be checked by evaluating how the patient stands and walks or having the person stand with their eyes closed while being gently pushed to one side of the other. A neurologist may check joints during this time as well. 

Sensory Exam

A specialist may use different instruments, such as dull needles, tuning forks, and alcohol swabs to check a patient’s ability to feel.  A neurologist may touch the patient’s legs, arms, or other parts of the body to see if they can identify sensations like hot or cold and sharp or dull. 

Coordination Exam 

During this part of a neurological exam, patients will be asked to walk, tap their fingers or feet, or something, such as their ears with eyes closed. 

Disorders and Issues that a Neurologist Can Treat

A neurologist can help diagnose, manage, and treat many conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. 

These disorders include: 

  • Neurodegenerative disorders
    • Alzheimer’s
    • Dementia
    • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Movement disorders
    • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Cardiovascular Disease, such as a stroke
  • Central nervous system disease, such as Multiple Sclerosis
  • Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy
  • Spinal cord disorders
  • Speech and language disorders
  • Chronic Migraines
  • Infections of the brain and peripheral nervous system 
  • Acute spinal cord injury 
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Brain Tumors
  • Meningitis

Our Team Supports Residents and Their Families

The Kensington Reston is an assisted living and memory care community that provides high acuity care for individuals with all levels of care. 

With our on-site rehabilitation team, we can empower and strengthen seniors with various conditions through speech, occupational, and physical therapy.

Our team understands the needs of our residents vary, which is why we look at each resident and offer them an individualized care plan. Doing this allows us to give them the best support and care they deserve while maintaining their quality of life. 

We offer support and resources to help caregivers feel empowered and less alone. Kensington Konnect is full of events, classes, and podcasts that educate family members on how to care for their loved one and take care of themselves as well. 

Through our life-enrichment activities, dining services, and spiritual wellness services, your senior loved one will have the opportunity to truly age in place. Our Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own. 

Contact us to learn more about our safe, cozy homes and the services we offer.

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