A basic guide to understanding 4 common neurodegenerative diseases

A basic guide to understanding 4 common neurodegenerative diseases

The Human Brain:

The brain is a human body’s control center, as we would put it, in simple words. However, as simple as it may seem, it is an intricate organ which controls functions ranging from thought and memory to touch and motor skills.

Just like any organ, the brain is not immune to the wear and tear of time and disease. Its disorders with respect to degeneration are termed as neurodegenerative diseases.

These diseases are generally marked by the spontaneous death or progressive degeneration of the structure, function and cells of the nervous system.

Suffering from a neurodegenerative disease can be extremely challenging and affects millions of individuals worldwide.

Here is a run-down of four common neurodegenerative diseases that highlight the need for ongoing research and awareness.

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD):

Alzheimer’s is the most prevalent cause of dementia and is associated with symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, and a slew of cognitive declines.

It’s believed to result from abnormal buildups of proteins in and around brain cells which leads to neuronal damage.

Parkinson’s Disease (PD):

Parkinson’s Disease causes hindrances in movement, causing tremors, stiffness, and slowing of motion. The loss of dopamine-producing neurons in a brain area called the substantia nigra leads to this disorder.

While PD’s exact cause is unknown, a combination of genetic and environmental factors is believed to be a factor.

Huntington’s Disease (HD):

It is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder that leads to the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain.

Its symptoms include physical movement disorders, cognitive decline, and psychiatric problems. Usually triggered by a genetic mutation, its effects are devastating and inevitably progress over time.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS):

Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is characterized by the gradual degeneration and death of motor neurons, leading to muscle weakness, speech difficulties, and ultimately, respiratory failure.

Even though the treatments for these neurodegenerative diseases primarily focus on symptom management, the research for a long term cure continues, with science working to cross boundaries of what we know about the brain and its aspects.

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