Brain illness -Illnesses that can affect the Brain
Contrary to popular opinion, the brain can be ill; just like every other part of the body. People with one illness affecting the brain will need care as every other patient does.
The brain is also a part of the body, and it is responsible for coordination and control. It can be damaged just like the kidneys, the heart and every other part of the body.
Due to the delicate nature of the brain and its importance, any disease that affects the brain will lead to severe and complicating problems. This is why the brain is protected by the bony skull, to prevent easy damage to it.
Some diseases that may affect the brain include:
The normal blood glucose falls between 80 – 120mg/dL; which is equivalent to 4.4 – 6.7mM.
Hypoglycemia refers to a blood sugar level that falls below this range.
As blood glucose falls, the brain begins to send signals to the body which trigger hunger, and an increased appetite. If these signals are heeded to, glucose is provided and mobilized for the brain.
However, if these signals are ignored, the blood glucose level continues to fall and may lead to a person collapsing, and then brain damage. A continuous decrease in blood glucose level may lead to a state of Hypoglycemic Encephalopathy.
When blood glucose falls below 45mg/dL, the brain makes use of alternate sources to enable it function, but these sources get depleted easily, as they are very limited in supply. Hence blood glucose continues to fall.
When blood glucose falls below 36mg/dL, the synthesis of neurotransmitters begins to decrease.
Neurotransmitters are responsible for maintaining moods and sleep patterns, transfer of impulses from cell to cell, blood pressure, etc.
A decrease in neurotransmitter synthesis will in turn lead to mood and emotion disorders.
A fall below 18mg/dl, will lead to cell death of neurons (responsible for the transfer of impulses).
Autism is a condition that affects an individual’s ability to communicate and relate freely with people. People with autism usually have issues with social behaviour, speech and learning. It is also called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This implies that while some patients may show little or no symptoms, some will be severely affected.
Autistic patients may experience difficulty in learning, making eye contacts, speaking up and even in associating with people.
People who have autism can undergo therapies and treatments which will improve their ability to interact and learn.
Depression usually occurs progressively. It usually affects the amygdala of the brain; the part responsible for emotions and emotional responses. Depression may be triggered by environmental factors, and can as well be genetic.
It presents with symptoms such as
- Guilty – People with depression feel responsible for the negative things that happen around them. This feeling also leads to a more progressive state of depression
- Loss of Appetite – Depressed people suddenly begin to emaciate, due to their loss of appetite and interest in food.
- Social apathy – They show a lack of interest in social life, and social activities. They usually are seen to withdraw from society and may like to be alone most of the time.
- Suicidal thoughts – In the long run, people suffering from depression end up being either passively or actively suicidal.
People living with depression usually need support, care, treatment and some therapies that will help improve their approach towards life.
Dementia is characterized by loss of memory, problems with thinking, speech problems and a general lack of coordination.
Though it is seen in more elderly people, it is an abnormal part of ageing. Depending on the part of the brain affected, dementia can present with different symptoms in different people. People with dementia usually need care, and maybe advised to cut down on some foods while receiving treatment.
Just like any part of the body, the brain can also have a tumour or a cancerous growth. There are various causes of cancer; some causes are unknown, it may be due to genetic or environmental factors. A growth or tumor in the brain is usually dangerous because it can severely affect function and coordination.
People with brain cancer usually experience symptoms such as; persistent headaches, instability, lack of coordination, seizures, memory issues, drowsiness and weakness, etc.
While some cancers are medically treatable by excision and chemotherapy, some may be very dangerous to attempt excision.
There is a long list of diseases that can affect the brain. It is important to understand and care for people experiencing any of these diseases the same way we would care for someone with a kidney or heart problem.
Support systems are very essential in recovery from some of these diseases.