Common Types of Neurodegenerative Diseases

While I do not professionally treat neurodegenerative diseases, as a functional medicine practitioner, I do treat many illnesses that have been directly correlated with many of these neurodegenerative diseases, such as lyme disease, hormonal imbalance, toxicity and more. As a part of my mission to spread awareness, I am committed to educating as many as possible about neurodegenerative diseases, how they can affect one’s life, the symptoms associated with each and more. I want each of you to be aware of these diseases so that you can hopefully attempt to avoid developing any of these diseases

Neurodegenerative disease is a term which classifies an umbrella of conditions known to primarily affect the neurons in the brain. The neurons in the brain are what make up the nervous system, including the brain and the spinal cord. Because neurons do not reproduce when they become damaged, they cannot be replaced by the body.

The most common forms of neurodegenerative diseases include:

  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Theses diseases are rumored to be incurable, though as I have mentioned before I am convinced there is nothing on this Earth that is incurable or untreatable.

Neurodegenerative diseases are debilitating conditions that cause rapid degeneration (or death) of nerve cells. When this happens, this impairs a person’s movement and mental capacity.

Parkinson’s Disease is a disorder that primarily affects dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. Typically age-related, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease develop over the years and can vary from person to person.

The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease include:

  • Tremors
  • Bradykinesia, or slowness of movement
  • Gait and balance problems

While the cause of Parkinson’s remains unknown, and there is currently no known cure, there are many treatment options available and it is possible to live a good quality of life with Parkinson’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a type of dementia that impairs a person’s cognitive function, including memory, thinking and behavior.

The most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease include:

  • Difficulty remembering new information
  • Disorientation
  • Mood and behavioral changes
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing, walking

Alzheimer’s Disease has many treatments available for symptoms and research continues to be able to improve the quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s.

Huntington’s Disease is known to be a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. When this happens, a person’s physical and mental abilities deteriorate significantly. Many symptoms of Huntington’s Disease are very similar to that of ALS and Alzheimer’s Disease.

  • Symptoms of Huntington’s Disease include:
  • Personality changes, mood swings & depression
  • Forgetfulness
  • Impaired judgement
  • Unsteady gait
  • Involuntary movements
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Significant weight loss

Huntington’s Disease is divided into three stages:

  • Early stage, which includes some coordination changes, involuntary movements, difficulty thinking clearly and depressed moods.
    Middle stage, which is when the involuntary movements become slightly more progressive. Diminished speech and difficulty swallowing also become more prevalent during this stage.
  • During the middle stage, occupational and physical therapists are needs to help maintain control of the involuntary movements, as well as help with ordinary activities as they become more difficult to do.
  • In late stage the person is completely dependent on others for care. Swallowing becomes very difficult, which means choking becomes a very big concern. It is during the late stage that the person becomes unable to walk or speak, however they are still very aware and are able to understand family and friends.

Huntington Disease does not often result in fatality, as it is often the complications from the disease that may cause death.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. When a person has ALS, such as my husband, these motor neurons deteriorate, causing muscle atrophy and loss of the deteriorated muscles. The motor neurons that are affected when someone has ALS are the motor neurons that provide voluntary movement and muscle control.

Symptoms of ALS include:

  • Spasticity, or tightening of the muscles
  • Clonus, or muscle spasms
  • Impaired speech
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty breathing

As of today, there is no single known cause of ALS. In many patients, ALS is a combination of many different causes. Some of the most commonly known contributing factors to ALS include:

  • Lyme disease
  • Toxicity: heavy metals, lead, mercury, etc..
  • Oxidative stress
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Genetics

While ALS may impair a person’s ability to walk or speak, it does not impair a person’s cognitive function, intelligence or memory. ALS is treatable and is a disease we are hoping to find more and more answers over time.

Finding solutions and treatment options to cure these devastating neurodegenerative diseases is very near and dear to my heart. I strongly encourage you to educate yourself on each of these diseases as early diagnosis is very ideal for managing each of them.

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Posted in: Neurodegenerative Diseases

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