Something More Serious
Many neurological emergencies like stroke, seizures or spinal cord injuries happen suddenly. If you are experiencing these warning signs of a stroke, call 911 immediately. Only one symptom may be present, and recognizing it immediately may make all the difference in recovery.
Warning Signs of Stroke
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding others
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden dizziness, loss of coordination or balance or trouble walking
- Sudden severe headache with no obvious cause
To Recognize Signs of Stroke — Remember FAST
- Face. Ask the person to smile. See if one side of the mouth droops.
- Arms. Ask the person to lift both arms. See if one uncontrollably lowers.
- Speech. Ask the person to repeat simple phrases to see if there is difficulty or confusion.
- Time. If a person exhibits any of these symptoms, time is of the essence. Call 911 immediately. Tell them you think it may be a stroke.
Common Neurological Conditions
Even if your symptoms aren’t an emergency, it could be a warning sign of a more serious neurological disorder. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms frequently, talk to your doctor:
- Frequent or recurring headaches
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Muscle weakness or difficulty balancing
- Stuttering or slurred speech
- Numbness or tingling
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
- Unexplained mood or behavior changes
Common conditions include:
Keep Your Brain Sharp
Not all neurological conditions can be prevented — genetics or even infections can cause problems with your nervous system. However, lifestyle habits like a healthy diet, mental activity and exercise can help boost your brain health.
Challenge Your Brain
Regularly challenging your mind may help to keep it in top shape. The more you learn, the more new connections you make among your brain cells. Keeping mentally active is not as hard as it may sound. Try mental exercises like reading a book, learning something new, crossword puzzles or brainteasers.
Keep your mind free of clutter with time for relaxation and activities that calm you down.
Manage Chronic Conditions
Side effects of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease can interfere with mental function. Many of the lifestyle steps discussed here can help manage these conditions. Strive to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, learn healthy ways to handle stress, and follow your doctor's advice for your condition.
Even if your brain is perfectly healthy, it’s important to take steps to prevent head injuries. Falls and accidents can lead to concussions, or more severe head injuries which may affect brain function. Here are some ways to reduce your risk of injury:
- Always wear a seat belt
- Equip your home with safety devices, eliminate tripping hazards, and add improved lighting
- Wear a helmet when you ride a bicycle, motorcycle, or go skiing
- Wear proper fitting shoes, especially if you walk or run
- Ask for a ride or plan to run errands during the day if you have trouble driving at night or in bad weather