What are the Common Neurological Emergencies?

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Neurological emergencies affect the nervous system of the body including the brain, spinal cord and all the associated nerves. Prompt recognition of neurological emergencies is a must for getting timely treatment, avoiding minimal damage to the nervous system and reducing readmission of patients in the hospital. Some of the common neurological emergencies show symptoms such as difficulties in thinking, unstable emotions, and respiratory paralysis due to a serious injury or severe illness.


Some of the common neurological emergencies are listed below:


  • Stroke: A stroke occurs when there is a blockage in a blood vessel of the brain. It is one of the most frequent causes of disability and death (in severe cases). Major risk factors for stroke include diabetes, hypertension, excessive smoking and dislipidemia. 

The symptoms of stroke include: weakness in limbs, memory disturbances, loss of consciousness and inability to speak properly. If the patient is brought into medical emergency within 3 hours of getting a stroke, the severity can be reduced to a great extent.

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  • Sudden severe headache: A sudden episode of severe headache can have many underlying causes and needs to be examined by a neurologist as soon as possible. Acute headache can occur due to brain haemorrhage, bad migraine or meningitis etc. It is possible to treat most of the related conditions if the patient is brought in the hospital emergency on time.
  • Seizures: There are multiple types of seizures and any episode of a convulsion or fit must be taken seriously. Reaching a neurologist on time can assist in getting the appropriate treatment for the patient on time. Common symptoms of seizures include loss of consciousness, jerking of muscles, abnormal stiffening of the body for several seconds etc. Even though the eyes are open, the affected person does not react. Also, the person does not appear to be breathing but he/she is adequately breathing throughout the seizure. 

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  • Loss of consciousness: Fainting is one of the most common neurological emergencies that needs to be looked into right away. There could be many reasons for loss of consciousness and these include: stroke, extremely low levels of sodium in the blood, sudden fall in blood pressure, poisoning, kidney or liver dysfunction etc. The outcome rests on the treatment of the underlying conditions and it is possible to reverse most of the cases.


  • Myasthenia Gravis: One of the less common neurological emergencies, Myasthenia Gravis occurs when there is an issue at the intersection of the nerve and muscle. Symptoms include: difficulty in swallowing and breathing, double vision or excessive weakness in the body etc. The outcome is favourable in most patients as this condition can be managed when the patient is brought to the emergency ward on time. 


  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome: Sometimes a person can experience weakness and numbness in the limbs after a viral illness. This happens because the antibodies made during the viral illness attack the covering of the nerves or the nerve fibres. However, specific treatment measures for this neurological emergency is very effective in most of the patients.


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