Nervous System

Information on nerve cell health and nervous system problems.

Information on the Nervous System & Nerve Cell Health

Select a Topic

  1. What is the Nervous System?
  2. What Causes Nervous System Problems?
  3. Diagnosing Nervous System Problems
  4. Help for Nervous System Problems

What is the Nervous system?

The nervous system forms part of a complex electrochemical process that acts as the body control center and communications center. It is responsible for sending, receiving and processing nerve impulses throughout the body as well as regulating and maintaining homeostasis. It coordinates muscle activity, thought, learning, memory, speech, the senses and emotion. The nervous system relies on billions of tiny nerve cells called neurons to function. Neurons carry information by sending electrochemical impulses through the nerves to other muscles and organs.

The nervous system is made up of two divisions - the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system:

Central nervous system

The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system. The brain controls how the body functions. It has billions of neurons that stores, receives and analyzes information. It also provides us with our personality, moods, emotions, consciousness and unconscious thoughts. The spinal cord is a continuation of the brain and carries messages between the central nervous system and the rest of the body.

Peripheral nervous system

The peripheral nervous system consists of sensory receptors, sensory neurons and motor neurons. This system is made up of the somatic nervous system and autonomic nervous system.

The somatic nervous system (voluntary nervous system)

 The somatic nervous system controls voluntary muscle movements, making them contract or relax. This system also carries information from the eyes, ears, the skin and muscle to the brain and spinal cord.

The autonomic nervous system (involuntary nervous system)

 The autonomic nervous system consists of two parts, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. These systems regulate organs and glands automatically, without any voluntary input and act on the body in opposite ways. They also help to maintain homeostasis.

Dignosing Nervous system problems

After a careful review of the patient’s medical history and a physical examination, certain procedures will be used to help accurately diagnose a nervous system disorder. The various diagnostic methods doctors use includes imaging tests such as computed tomography or CT, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), angiography, positron emission tomography, and Doppler ultrasonography.

What Causes Nervous system problems?

Infections

  • Meningitis
  • Polio
  • Encephalitis
  • Epidural abscess

Functional disorders

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Neuralgia
  • Epilepsy

Structural disorders

  • Bell’s palsy
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Brain or spinal cord injury
  • Brain or spinal cord tumors
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome

Vascular disorders

  • Stroke
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Subdural hemorrhage and hematoma
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Extradural hemorrhage

Degeneration

    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Huntington’s chorea
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Help for Nervous system problems

Treatment options for neurological disorders usually depends on the diagnosis, underlying causes, the overall health of the individual and the severity of the condition. Various medications may be prescribed to treat these disorders and in more severe cases, neurological surgery may be prescribed. Complementary therapies such as acupuncture, physiotherapy, massage, hydrotherapy or chiropractic techniques may also be helpful during rehabilitation.

 

Tips to promote and maintain a healthy nervous system
  • There are several things that you can do to support nervous system health and these include:
  • Eat a healthy, well balanced diet that contains vitamin D and 12, calcium and potassium
  • Stay active by exercising at least three times a week
  • Get enough rest and try to have at least eight hours sleep at night
  • Stop smoking and avoid an excessive intake of alcohol
  • Give your brain a workout by doing challenging or stimulating activities such as building a puzzle, playing word games, painting, sketching, reading or playing music
  • Learn to relax and reduce stress by practicing deep breathing exercises, going yoga or meditation
  • Surround yourself with positive people who will uplift you and make you feel good about yourself
  • Train your brain to not harbor unhealthy thoughts

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