The brain is a very complex organ, both structurally and functionally, and presents with symptoms elsewhere in the body if there is a problem within. It is akin to a central processing unit of a computer which controls the functioning of the entire body. In addition to ageing, trauma, injury, and infection can also lead to neurological symptoms which require intervention by a neurologist.
The following are some common symptoms indicative of the need to see a neurologist.
- Numb chin syndrome (NCS): This sudden numbness is often unilateral and has no dental/oral cause. NCS could either be the first indication of multiple sclerosis or systemic malignancy. Breast cancer, prostate cancer, and small cell lung cancer are shown to metastasize first to the trigeminal area and so numbness in the chin should be further investigated.
- Muscle twitches: The quivering, twitching and flickering of certain muscles is common for most of us, which is medically known as fasciculations. These occur due to muscle overuse, tiredness, or due to old age. However, when these get progressive, spread to more and more muscles, and are more regular, then it is a cause for concern. This could be the first indication of underlying motor neurone disease, and it is good to rule it out in the early phase.
- Poor vision: Vision is blurred or lost for short periods of time, usually affecting both eyes and lasting for just about a few seconds. This happens due to increased intracranial pressure, which causes sudden vision loss. However, it could also be due to underlying brain tumours that are enlarging and encroaching intracranial space.
- Bowel/bladder incontinence: Inability to control bowel or bladder movements along with symptoms like leg stiffness could mean spinal cord compression and should be discussed immediately with a neurologist. Left unattended, it could progress and lead to severe complications.
- Droopy eyelid: Whether or not it is painful, whether or not it is seen on both sides, a droopy eyelid is definitely a cause for concern. This could be due to aneurysm of an artery which can press on the cranial nerve and cause more severe symptoms.
- Banging headache: A headache as if someone hit you with a cricket bat could be the result of an internal haemorrhage in the subarachnoid space. Diagnosis needs to be confirmed with a lumbar puncture to see if the fluid has blood in it.
- Saddle anaesthesia: A tumour in the spinal column compressing on the lower spinal nerves presents as loss of anaesthesia around the genitals and buttocks. This again needs to be immediately looked at by the neurologist.
If you have any of the above symptoms, visit your neurologist, and ruling out serious causes is reason enough to cheer!
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