There are more than 600 neurological disorders in the world. These disorders affect millions of people every day.
Neurological disorders that are left untreated can progress to have serious consequences. These disorders are only becoming more common as time passes, which means it is more important than ever to keep an eye out for symptoms.
Read on to learn more about neurological disorders and how they are screened and diagnosed.
What are Neurological Disorders?
Neurological disorders are diseases that affect the central and peripheral nervous systems. This includes the brain, spinal cord, muscles, nerve roots, cranial and peripheral nerves, autonomic nervous system, and neuromuscular junction.
Some common types of neurological disorders are:
- Alzheimer's disease and other dementias
- Bell's palsy and cerebral palsy
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Guillain-Barré syndrome
- Muscular dystrophy
- Neuralgia and neuropathy
- Parkinson's disease
- Primary progressive aphasia
- Spinal deformities and disorders, including scoliosis and spinal tumors
- Vertigo and stroke
- Migraines and other headache disorders
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Mild cognitive impairment
Risk Factors of Neurological Disorders
Risk factors for neurological disorders include recent significant stress and emotional or physical trauma.
Age is a risk factor for some of these disorders. There is also a possibility that women are more likely to develop these disorders than men.
If a person's family has a history of neurological disorders, that person is more at risk for developing a disorder. Having a mental health condition can also increase a person's risk for neurological disorders.
Causes of Neurological Disorders
Depending on the type of disorder, the cause may vary.
Some causes of neurological disorders include:
- Genetic and congenital disorders
- Health problems related to lifestyle or environment, including malnutrition
- Injuries to the brain, spinal cord, or nerves
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Neurological Disorders?
There are a wide variety of neurological disorders. However, many of their symptoms tend to overlap.
Some common symptoms of neurological disorders include:
- Muscle weakness
- Poor coordination
- Loss of sensation
- Altered levels of consciousness
How are Neurological Disorders Diagnosed?
Diagnosing neurological disorders is a complicated and difficult process.
As many of these disorders share similar symptoms, doctors must identify different combinations of symptoms to create a differential diagnosis.
Doctors will look at a patient's full medical history and perform a physical examination to start the diagnosis process. Afterward, they may conduct a neurological exam.
Neurological exams test a patient's motor and sensory skills. This includes hearing, speech, coordination, balance, and vision. A patient's mental state, mood, and behavior may also be examined.
Lab Tests to Screen, Diagnose, and Monitor Neurological Disorders
Once the differential diagnosis is created, the doctor can then do further diagnostic tests and procedures.
Lab testing can help doctors identify neurological conditions, including:
- Hereditary disorders
- Acute and chronic inflammation
- Viral infections
- Multiple sclerosis
- Certain neurodegenerative disorders
Laboratory Screening Tests
Laboratory screening tests are when a patient's bodily fluids are tested. The most common lab tests use urine and blood.
Urine tests can identify signs of infection, toxins, diseases, and abnormal metabolic substances. Blood tests can help detect:
- Abnormal levels of hormones and blood cells
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Genes associated with inherited conditions
- Infection and toxins
- Metabolic, muscle, and clotting disorders
- Autoimmune diseases
Metabolic Panel Tests
Metabolic panel tests are often used to detect liver and kidney issues but can also check for problems in a patient's nutrient levels and in all areas of the body involving the metabolism.
Metabolic panel tests can assist doctors in detecting:
- Liver or kidney problems through BUN, ALT, albumin, alkaline phosphatase, and creatinine levels
- Heart or liver issues through AST levels
- Issues in how the liver, kidney, and bile ducts function through bilirubin levels
- Kidney problems, overactive thyroid or parathyroid glands, certain cancers, pancreatic problems, or vitamin D deficiency through calcium levels
- High levels of acidity in the body, dehydration, multiple myeloma, kidney disorders, and adrenal gland dysfunction through chloride levels
- Problems with the kidney and parathyroid gland through phosphorus levels
- Increased risk of high blood pressure and stroke through potassium levels
- Dehydration, adrenal gland disorders, liver problems, and kidney problems through sodium levels
- Neuropathy through blood sugar levels
Lipid and Complete Blood Count Tests
Lipid panel tests measure the amount of fat is in a patient's blood. This includes checking a patient's total cholesterol and triglyceride levels for signs of heart disease and other health issues.
Complete blood count tests help doctors evaluate a patient's overall health and detect diseases, infections, and abnormalities of the blood. These tests help identify:
- Signs of infection, leukemia, and other health disorders through a WBC leukocyte count
- Infection, autoimmune disorders, amenia, inflammation, and other health issues through a WBC differential count
- Conditions affecting red blood cells through an RBC erythrocyte count
- Signs of amenia through Hct and Hgb levels
- Anemia and chronic fatigue syndrome through an MCV
- Signs of anemia or nutritional deficiency through MCH and MCHC levels
- Liver disease, anemia, and nutritional deficiencies, among other health conditions through an RCDW
- Risk of stroke, heart attack, or of developing a bleeding disorder through a platelet count and MPV
Genetic Tests and Brain Scans
Genetic tests are used when a patient's family has a history of neurological disorders. These tests identify if a patient has one of the genes that can cause one of these disorders.
Brain scans use imaging techniques to screen for injuries and other problems in the brain. This includes tumors, malformed blood vessels, stroke, abnormal development, and bleeding. Some examples of brain scans are MRI, PET, and CT scans.
Other types of tests used for neurological disorder screening and diagnosis are:
- EEG, which monitors the electrical activity of the brain
- Electrodiagnostic tests, which screen for disorders present in the muscles and motor neurons
- Angiogram, which uses an X-ray to detect blockages or the narrowing of passages in the arteries and veins
- Neurosonography, which is used to analyze blood flow and help diagnose stroke
- Ultrasounds, which create images of blood vessels, tissues, and internal organs
Frequently Asked Questions about Neurological Disorders and Lab Testing
Some frequently asked questions about neurological disorders and lab testing are:
- How long will it take to get the results of the tests?
- What treatment options are available?
- What is the treatment's likelihood of success?
- How long will treatments last? How frequent are treatments?
- Are there any side effects or risks to receiving the treatment?
- Will the treatments limit daily activities and lifestyle?
- Is it necessary to spend time in the hospital?
The answer to these questions depends on the type of disorder.
Some of these disorders have mild symptoms and require little to no hospital time. Others have far more severe symptoms that will have a high impact on a person's lifestyle. These more severe disorders may require frequent trips to the hospital for treatment.
Neurological Disorders Lab Testing with Ulta Lab Tests
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