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[WEB SITE] CT head scan: Uses, procedure, risks, and results

A computed tomography (CT) scan of the head is an imaging scan that uses X-rays to develop a 3D image of the skull, brain, and other related areas of the head.

CT scan of the head can provide more detail than a traditional X-ray, which is particularly useful when a doctor wants to check the blood vessels and soft tissues in the body.

In this article, we explain why a doctor may order a CT scan of the head and what a person can expect if they need to undergo this procedure.

When do people need a CT head scan?

a man having a CT head scan

A person may have a CT head scan after trauma to check for damage.

Some of the reasons why a doctor may order a head CT scan include:

  • looking for possible damage after trauma to the head, such as soft tissue injuries, brain bleeding, and bone injuries
  • assessing a person having stroke-like symptoms to see whether there are signs of a blood clot or brain bleeding
  • looking for a possible brain tumor or other brain abnormality
  • checking the effectiveness of medical treatments in shrinking a brain tumor
  • assessing birth conditions that cause the skull to form abnormally
  • evaluating a person with a history of hydrocephalus, a condition in which an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid causes the enlargement of the brain ventricles

If a person is having brain-related symptoms, such as changes in personality or affected movement, a doctor may order a head CT scan to make sure that a brain abnormality is not the underlying cause.

Test procedure

A doctor should provide specific instructions for the day of the CT scan. These will include whether or not to refrain from eating or drinking for a certain period before the scan.

The doctor will also usually ask the person to take off any jewelry, removable dental work, or hairpins because these can affect the scan’s images.

Sometimes, people who take metformin (Glucophage) may need to refrain from using it for a few days before getting a CT scan with contrast dye. The combination of this drug and the dye can cause a severe reaction in some individuals.

Contrast dye is a substance that the person may receive by injection before a scan. It makes certain areas of the body show up more easily on a scan. However, not all CT scans require contrast dye.

The person will often complete a checklist before undergoing the scan. The checklist includes a medical history of conditions that can affect a person’s health, such as kidney disease, heart diseaseasthma, and thyroid problems. Some health issues may affect a person’s ability to receive intravenous (IV) contrast.

The scanner usually looks like a circle shaped machine that has a hole in its center. In the center, there is a bed on which a person lies during the procedure. The scanner is usually open, which helps the person feel less claustrophobic.

radiology technician may ask the person to change into a gown before going into the room with the CT scanner.

Before the scan, a radiology technician may put an IV line in place, usually in the person’s arm, if the scan uses contrast dye.

During the scan, the radiology technician will talk to the person via a speaker to let them know them when the scan is starting. The scanner will direct X-ray beams at the person’s head. The X-rays will come back to the scanner, transmitting the images back to a computer.

After the initial scan, the radiology technician may deliver the IV contrast material. They will then restart the CT scan. The technologist will review the images to ensure that they are of high quality and are free of blurring in any key areas.

The average CT scan of the head takes no more than 10 minutes.

CT head scans in children

a doctor preparing a child for a CT scan.

Children are sensitive to radiation, so a doctor may only order a CT scan when necessary to confirm a diagnosis.

As a CT scan is relatively quick, many children can stay still long enough for the technician to complete the scan. However, if a child cannot remain still for the scan — as is the case for babies — it may be necessary to perform the procedure with the child under anesthesia.

Children are typically more sensitive to radiation than adults. As a result, doctors tend to reserve CT scans for when they are necessary to make a diagnosis. A radiology technician can usually adjust the settings on a CT scanner to deliver the lowest possible dose of radiation.

Risks

The CT scan is a painless, noninvasive procedure, and doctors generally consider it to be safe. However, it carries some possible risks.

As a CT scan exposes a person to radiation, there is a risk that the person could develop cancer from excessive radiation doses. However, the risks for this after one CT head scan are minimal. A person can ask their doctor if they should be concerned about the radiation dose from a CT head scan.

Doctors will usually recommend that women avoid CT scans during pregnancy. However, as one CT scan is unlikely to pose a significant risk, a doctor can offer advice on whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

Read about the safety of X-rays here.

A CT scan can be noisy. Sometimes, this noise or the fear of being in an enclosed space can provoke anxiety in a person. For this reason, doctors may sometimes give a person sedating medicines before they go into the CT scanner.

If a person receives a contrast dye during the procedure, they could be at risk of experiencing an allergic reaction to the dye.

Contrast dye can also cause other symptoms that may be temporarily unpleasant but are not an allergic reaction. These may include a warm feeling throughout the body, a burning sensation, or a metallic taste in the mouth. Sometimes, a doctor may prescribe a steroid or advise a person to take diphenhydramine (Benadryl) before undergoing the scan.

Results

A medical specialist called a radiologist will examine the imaging scans, looking for any abnormalities in the brain and surrounding tissues. They will write a report of their findings and send it to the doctor who ordered the scan.

If a person is in the hospital and undergoing the scan as an emergency, the radiologist will report any immediately concerning results as quickly as possible.

CT scan vs. MRI scan

a doctor showing a patient information on an ipad

A person’s doctor can advise on which type of scan is best to diagnose a certain condition.

While a CT scan is helpful in displaying some aspects of the head and brain, an MRI scan sometimes has higher sensitivity. As a result, it may be more effective in revealing disease processes in the brain and inflammation in the membranes covering the brain, which are known as the meninges.

Doctors will consider the advantages of each type of scan for scanning the head. The benefits of a CT scan compared with an MRI scan include:

  • A CT scan is faster than an MRI scan, so doctors usually use it for emergencies.
  • A CT scan generally costs less than an MRI scan.
  • Doctors can perform a CT scan on a person who has metal devices, such as a pacemaker, nerve stimulator, or cochlear implant. A person with these devices cannot undergo an MRI because of the magnet’s attraction to metal.

The benefits of an MRI scan compared with a CT scan include:

  • An MRI does not involve radiation exposure, making it preferable for children who may require multiple scans.
  • MRI scans can show soft tissues and structures that bone may hide in a CT scan.
  • A person requires a smaller amount of IV contrast for an MRI scan than for a CT scan.

People can talk to their doctor to evaluate the aspects of each scan and determine which is most appropriate for them.

Summary

A CT scan of the head is useful for helping a doctor assess damage after an accident or head trauma. It also allows them to look for brain abnormalities, such as tumors and skull defects.

Doctors consider CT scans to be relatively safe and noninvasive procedures, even though they involve exposure to radiation. People can discuss any possible risks with their doctor.

 

via CT head scan: Uses, procedure, risks, and results

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[VIDEO] What is Neuroplasticity? – YouTube

What is Neuroplasticity? Dr. Matthew Antonucci from Plasticity Brain Centers of Orlando, Florida gives us a breakdown of what the term really means.

 

 

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[WEB PAGE] Neurotransmitters: What they are, functions, and psychology

via Neurotransmitters: What they are, functions, and psychology

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[WEB PAGE] Types and Levels of Brain Injury

Types of Brain Injury

All brain injuries are unique.  The brain can receive several different types of injuries depending on the type of force and amount of force that impacts the head. The type of injury the brain receives may affect just one functional area of the brain, various areas, or all areas of the brain.

Traumatic Brain Injury  •  Acquired Brain Injury • Levels of Brain Injury

 


Traumatic Brain Injury

Concussion

Even a concussion can cause substantial difficulties or impairments that can last a lifetime. Whiplash can result in the same difficulties as head injury. Such impairments can be helped by rehabilitation, however many individuals are released from treatment without referrals to brain injury rehabilitation, or guidance of any sort.

  • A concussion can be caused by direct blows to the head, gunshot wounds, violent shaking of the head, or force from a whiplash type injury.
  • Both closed and open head injuries can produce a concussion. A concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury.
  • A concussion is caused when the brain receives trauma from an impact or a sudden momentum or movement change. The blood vessels in the brain may stretch and cranial nerves may be damaged.
  • A person may or may not experience a brief loss of consciousness.
  • A person may remain conscious, but feel dazed.
  • A concussion may or may not show up on a diagnostic imaging test, such as a CAT Scan.
  • Skull fracture, brain bleeding, or swelling may or may not be present. Therefore, concussion is sometimes defined by exclusion and is considered a complex neurobehavioral syndrome.
  • A concussion can cause diffuse axonal type injury resulting in temporary or permanent damage.
  • A blood clot in the brain can occur occasionally and be fatal.
  • It may take a few months to a few years for a concussion to heal.

Contusion

  • A contusion can be the result of a direct impact to the head.
  • A contusion is a bruise (bleeding) on the brain.
  • Large contusions may need to be surgically removed.

Coup-Contrecoup

  • Coup-Contrecoup Injury describes contusions that are both at the site of the impact and on the complete opposite side of the brain.
  • This occurs when the force impacting the head is not only great enough to cause a contusion at the site of impact, but also is able to move the brain and cause it to slam into the opposite side of the skull, which causes the additional contusion.

Diffuse Axonal

  • A Diffuse Axonal Injury can be caused by shaking or strong rotation of the head, as with Shaken Baby Syndrome, or by rotational forces, such as with a car accident.
  • Injury occurs because the unmoving brain lags behind the movement of the skull, causing brain structures to tear.
  • There is extensive tearing of nerve tissue throughout the brain. This can cause brain chemicals to be released, causing additional injury.
  • The tearing of the nerve tissue disrupts the brain’s regular communication and chemical processes.
  • This disturbance in the brain can produce temporary or permanent widespread brain damage, coma, or death.
  • A person with a diffuse axonal injury could present a variety of functional impairments depending on where the shearing (tears) occurred in the brain.

Penetration

Penetrating injury to the brain occurs from the impact of a bullet, knife or other sharp object that forces hair, skin, bones and fragments from the object into the brain.

  • Objects traveling at a low rate of speed through the skull and brain can ricochet within the skull, which widens the area of damage.
  • A “through-and-through” injury occurs if an object enters the skull, goes through the brain, and exits the skull. Through-and-through traumatic brain injuries include the effects of penetration injuries, plus additional shearing, stretching and rupture of brain tissue. (Brumback R. (1996). Oklahoma Notes: Neurology and Clinical Neuroscience. (2nd Ed.). New York: Springer.)
  • The devastating traumatic brain injuries caused by bullet wounds result in a 91% firearm-related death rate overall. (Center for Disease Control. [Online August 22, 2002: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/didop/tbi.htm#rate,]).
  • Firearms are the single largest cause of death from traumatic brain injury.
  • (Center for Disease Control. [Online August 22, 2002: http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/didop/tbi.htm#rate,]).

Acquired Brain Injury

Acquired Brain Injury, (ABI), results from damage to the brain caused by strokes, tumors, anoxia, hypoxia, toxins, degenerative diseases, near drowning and/or other conditions not necessarily caused by an external force.

Anoxia

Anoxic Brain Injury occurs when the brain does not receive any oxygen. Cells in the brain need oxygen to survive and function.

Types of Anoxic Brain Injury

  • Anoxic Anoxia- Brain injury from no oxygen supplied to the brain
  • Anemic Anoxia- Brain injury from blood that does not carry enough oxygen
  • Toxic Anoxia- Brain injury from toxins or metabolites that block oxygen in the blood from being used Zasler, N. Brain Injury Source, Volume 3, Issue 3, Ask the Doctor

Hypoxic

A Hypoxic Brain Injury results when the brain receives some, but not enough oxygen.

Types of Hypoxic Brain Injury

  • Hypoxic Ischemic Brain Injury, also called Stagnant Hypoxia or Ischemic Insult- Brain injury occurs because of a lack of blood flow to the brain because of a critical reduction in blood flow or blood pressure.

Resources:

Brain Injury Association of America, Causes of Brain Injury. www.biausa.org

Zasler, N. Brain Injury Source, Volume 3, Issue 3, Ask the Doctor

 


Levels of Brain Injury Brain Injury

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (Glasgow Coma Scale score 13-15)

Mild traumatic brain injury occurs when:

  • Loss of consciousness is very brief, usually a few seconds or minutes
  • Loss of consciousness does not have to occur—the person may be dazed or confused
  • Testing or scans of the brain may appear normal
  • A mild traumatic brain injury is diagnosed only when there is a change in the mental status at the time of injury—the person is dazed, confused, or loses consciousness. The change in mental status indicates that the person’s brain functioning has been altered, this is called a concussion

Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury (Glasgow Coma Scale core 9-12)

Most brain injuries result from moderate and minor head injuries. Such injuries usually result from a non-penetrating blow to the head, and/or a violent shaking of the head. As luck would have it many individuals sustain such head injuries without any apparent consequences. However, for many others, such injuries result in lifelong disabling impairments.

A moderate traumatic brain injury occurs when:

  • A loss of consciousness lasts from a few minutes to a few hours
  • Confusion lasts from days to weeks
  • Physical, cognitive, and/or behavioral impairments last for months or are permanent.

Persons with moderate traumatic brain injury generally can make a good recovery with treatment or successfully learn to compensate for their deficits.

Severe Brain Injury

Severe head injuries usually result from crushing blows or penetrating wounds to the head. Such injuries crush, rip and shear delicate brain tissue. This is the most life threatening, and the most intractable type of brain injury.

Typically, heroic measures are required in treatment of such injuries. Frequently, severe head trauma results in an open head injury, one in which the skull has been crushed or seriously fractured. Treatment of open head injuries usually requires prolonged hospitalization and extensive rehabilitation. Typically, rehabilitation is incomplete and for most part there is no return to pre-injury status. Closed head injuries can also result in severe brain injury.

TBI can cause a wide range of functional short- or long-term changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, or emotions.

TBI can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.1

Repeated mild TBIs occurring over an extended period of time (i.e., months, years) can result in cumulative neurological and cognitive deficits. Repeated mild TBIs occurring within a short period of time (i.e., hours, days, or weeks) can be catastrophic or fatal.

Resources:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Traumatic brain injury: hope through research. Bethesda (MD): National Institutes of Health; 2002 Feb. NIH Publication No.: 02-158.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Report to Congress on mild traumatic brain injury in the United States: steps to prevent a serious public health problem. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2003.

Brain Injury Association of America, Causes of Brain Injury. www.biausa.org

via Types and Levels of Brain Injury – Brain Injury Alliance of Utah

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[Information/Educational Page] Driving After Mild Stroke – Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

First page of article

In the U.S. over 305,000 people have a mild stroke each year.1 Even mild stroke may lead to difficulties with physical function, thinking, and vision.2 Because of these challenges, people with mild stroke can complete basic tasks fairly easily, but may have difficulty returning to complex tasks like driving.2 Approximately 1 out of every 5 adults with mild stroke report difficulty with driving.3

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via Driving After Mild Stroke – Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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[WEB SITE] Depression Overview: Emotional Symptoms, Physical Signs, and More – WebMD

via Depression Overview: Emotional Symptoms, Physical Signs, and More

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[WEB PAGE] Rehabilitation After Traumatic Brain Injury – Johns Hopkins Medicine

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden injury causes damage to your brain. A “closed head injury” may cause brain damage if something hits your head hard but doesn’t break through your skull. A “penetrating head injury” occurs when an object breaks through your skull and enters your brain.

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Symptoms that may occur after TBI may include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory problems
  • Personality changes

According to the CDC, the leading cause of TBI is falls, particularly for young children and adults over 65. Other common causes of TBI include accidental blunt force trauma, motor vehicle accidents, and violent assaults.

If you have had a TBI, rehabilitation (or rehab) will be an important part of your recovery. Rehab can take many forms depending on your needs, and might include physical, occupational, and speech therapy, as well as psychiatric care and social support. All of these are designed to help you recover from the effects of your injury as much as possible.

Why might I need rehab after traumatic brain injury?

Rehab may help:

  • Improve your ability to function at home and in your community
  • Help treat the mental and physical problems caused by TBI
  • Provide social and emotional support
  • Help you adapt to changes as they occur during your recovery

Rehab can also help prevent complications of TBI such as:

  • Blood clots
  • Pain
  • Pressure ulcers, also called bedsores
  • Breathing problems and pneumonia
  • A drop in blood pressure when you move around
  • Muscle weakness and muscle spasm
  • Bowel and bladder problems
  • Reproductive and sexual function problems

What are the risks of rehab after traumatic brain injury?

Rehab after a TBI is not likely to cause problems. But there is always a risk that parts of treatment such as physical or occupational therapy might lead to new injuries or make existing symptoms or injuries worse if not done properly.

That’s why it is important to work closely with your rehab specialist who will take steps to help prevent problems. But they may still happen. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before rehab.

How do I get ready for rehab after traumatic brain injury?

Before you can start rehab, you must get care and treatment for the early effects of TBI. This might include:

  • Emergency treatment for head and any other injuries
  • Intensive care treatment
  • Surgery to repair brain or skull injuries
  • Recovery in the hospital
  • Transfer to a rehabilitation hospital

What happens during rehab after traumatic brain injury?

Every person’s needs and abilities after TBI are different. You will have a rehab program designed especially for you. Your program is likely to involve many types of healthcare providers. It’s important to have one central person you can talk to. This person is often called your case coordinator.

Over time, your program will likely change as your needs and abilities change.

Rehab can take place in various settings. You, your case coordinator, and your family should pick the setting that works best for you. Possible settings include:

  • Inpatient rehab hospital
  • Outpatient rehab hospital
  • Home-based rehab
  • A comprehensive day program
  • An independent living center

Your individual program may include any or all of these treatments:

  • Physical therapy
  • Physical medicine
  • Occupational therapy
  • Psychiatric care
  • Psychological care
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Social support

You have many options for rehab therapy, and the type of rehab therapy that you need will be determined by your care team. Your care team will assess your needs and abilities. This assessment may include:

  • Bowel and bladder control
  • Speech ability
  • Swallowing ability
  • Strength and coordination
  • Ability to understand language
  • Mental and behavioral state
  • Social support needs

What happens after rehab for traumatic brain injury?

How long your rehab lasts and how much follow-up care you will need afterwards depends on how severe your brain damage was and how well you respond to therapy. Some people may be able to return to the same level of ability they had before TBI. Others need lifetime care.

Some long-term effects of TBI can show up years later. You may be at higher risk long-term for problems such as Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, and other forms of dementia.

After rehab you may be given these instructions:

  • Symptoms and signs that you should call your healthcare provider about
  • Symptoms and signs that are to be expected
  • Advice on safety and self-care
  • Advice on alcohol and drug use
  • Community support resources available to you

Your primary care provider should be given all the records and recommendations from your therapy team to help ensure that you continue to get the right care.

Next steps

Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:

  • The name of the test or procedure
  • The reason you are having the test or procedure
  • What results to expect and what they mean
  • The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
  • What the possible side effects or complications are
  • When and where you are to have the test or procedure
  • Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
  • What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
  • Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
  • When and how will you get the results
  • Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems
  • How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure

via Rehabilitation After Traumatic Brain Injury | Johns Hopkins Medicine

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[WEB PAGE] Neurotransmitters: What they are, functions, and psychology

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the body. Their job is to transmit signals from nerve cells to target cells. These target cells may be in muscles, glands, or other nerves.

The brain needs neurotransmitters to regulate many necessary functions, including:

  • heart rate
  • breathing
  • sleep cycles
  • digestion
  • mood
  • concentration
  • appetite
  • muscle movement

The nervous system controls the body’s organs, psychological functions, and physical functions. Nerve cells, also known as neurons, and their neurotransmitters play important roles in this system.

Nerve cells fire nerve impulses. They do this by releasing neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that carry signals to other cells.

Neurotransmitters relay their messages by traveling between cells and attaching to specific receptors on target cells.

Each neurotransmitter attaches to a different receptor — for example, dopamine molecules attach to dopamine receptors. When they attach, this triggers action in the target cells.

After neurotransmitters deliver their messages, the body breaks down or recycles them.

Key types of neurotransmitters

a person pointing to neurotransmitters on a model of a brain.

Many bodily functions need neurotransmitters to help communicate with the brain.

Neurotransmitters have different types of action:

  • Excitatory neurotransmitters encourage a target cell to take action.
  • Inhibitory neurotransmitters decrease the chances of the target cell taking action. In some cases, these neurotransmitters have a relaxation-like effect.
  • Modulatory neurotransmitters can send messages to many neurons at the same time. They also communicate with other neurotransmitters.

Some neurotransmitters can carry out various functions, depending on the type of receptor that they are connecting to.

The following sections describe some of the best-known neurotransmitters.

Acetylcholine

Acetylcholine triggers muscle contractions, stimulates some hormones, and controls the heartbeat. It also plays an important role in brain function and memory. It is an excitatory neurotransmitter.

Low levels of acetylcholine are linked with issues with memory and thinking, such as those that affect people with Alzheimer’s disease. Some Alzheimer’s medications help slow the breakdown of acetylcholine in the body, and this can help control some symptoms, such as memory loss.

Having high levels of acetylcholine can cause too much muscle contraction. This can lead to seizures, spasms, and other health issues.

The nutrient choline, which is present in many foods, is a building block of acetylcholine. People must get enough choline from their diets to produce adequate levels of acetylcholine. However, it is not clear whether consuming more choline can help boost levels of this neurotransmitter.

Choline is available as a supplement, and taking high doses can lead to serious side effects, such as liver damage and seizures. Generally, only people with certain health conditions need choline supplements.

Dopamine

Dopamine is important for memory, learning, behavior, and movement coordination. Many people know dopamine as a pleasure or reward neurotransmitter. The brain releases dopamine during pleasurable activities.

Dopamine is also responsible for muscle movement. A dopamine deficiency can cause Parkinson’s disease.

A healthful diet may help balance dopamine levels. The body needs certain amino acids to produce dopamine, and amino acids are found in protein-rich foods.

Meanwhile, eating high amounts of saturated fat can lead to lower dopamine activity, according to research from 2015. Also, certain studies suggest that a deficiency in vitamin D can lead to low dopamine activity.

While there are no dopamine supplements, exercise may help boost levels naturally. Some research has shown that regular exercise improves dopamine signaling in people who have early stage Parkinson’s disease.

Endorphins

a laughing senior black woman.

The body may release endorphins during laughter.

One of the best-known ways to boost levels of feel-good endorphins is through aerobic exercise. A “runner’s high,” for example, is a release of endorphins. Also, research indicates that laughter releases endorphins.

Endorphins may help fight pain. The National Headache Foundation say that low levels of endorphins may play a role in some headache disorders.

A deficiency in endorphins may also play a role in fibromyalgiaThe Arthritis Foundation recommend exercise as a natural treatment for fibromyalgia, due to its ability to boost endorphins.

Epinephrine

Also known as adrenaline, epinephrine is involved in the body’s “fight or flight” response. It is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter.

When a person is stressed or scared, their body may release epinephrine. Epinephrine increases heart rate and breathing and gives the muscles a jolt of energy. It also helps the brain make quick decisions in the face of danger.

While epinephrine is useful if a person is threatened, chronic stress can cause the body to release too much of this hormone. Over time, chronic stress can lead to health problems, such as decreased immunity, high blood pressurediabetes, and heart disease.

People who are dealing with ongoing high levels of stress may wish to try techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and exercise.

Anyone who thinks that their levels of stress could be dangerously high or that they may have anxiety or depression should speak with a healthcare provider.

Meanwhile, doctors can use epinephrine to treat many life threatening conditions, including:

  • anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction
  • asthma attacks
  • cardiac arrest
  • severe infections

Epinephrine’s ability to constrict blood vessels can decrease swelling that results from allergic reactions and asthma attacks. In addition, epinephrine helps the heart contract again if it has stopped during cardiac arrest.

GABA

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a mood regulator. It has an inhibitory action, which stops neurons from becoming overexcited. This is why low levels of GABA can cause anxiety, irritability, and restlessness.

Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” are drugs that can treat anxiety. They work by increasing the action of GABA. This has a calming effect that can treat anxiety attacks.

GABA is available in supplement form, but it is unclear whether these supplements help boost GABA levels in the body, according to some research.

Serotonin

a father and son enjoying a sunny day on a hill.

Exposure to sunlight may increase serotonin levels.

Serotonin plays a role in depression and anxiety. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, can relieve depression by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) causes symptoms of depression in the fall and winter, when daylight is less abundant. Research indicates that SAD is linked to lower levels of serotonin.

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) increase serotonin and norepinephrine, which is another neurotransmitter. People take SNRIs to relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia.

Some evidence indicates that people can increase serotonin naturally through:

  • being exposed to bright light, especially sunlight
  • vigorous exercise

A precursor to serotonin, called 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), is available as a supplement. However, some research has found that 5-HTP is not a safe or effective treatment for depression and can possibly make the condition worse.

Summary

Neurotransmitters play a role in nearly every function in the human body.

A balance of neurotransmitters is necessary to prevent certain health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

There is no proven way to ensure that neurotransmitters are balanced and working correctly. However, having a healthful lifestyle that includes regular exercise and stress management can help, in some cases.

Before trying a supplement, ask a healthcare provider. Supplements can interact with medications and may be otherwise unsafe, especially for people with certain health conditions.

Health conditions that result from an imbalance of neurotransmitters often require treatment from a professional. See a doctor regularly to discuss physical and mental health concerns.

 

via Neurotransmitters: What they are, functions, and psychology

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[Infographic] MUSIC & THE BRAIN

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[WEB PAGE] Abnormal Gait | Walking Problems – MedlinePlus

Walking Problems

Summary

What are walking problems?

If you are like most people, you walk thousands of steps each day. You walk to do your daily activities, get around, and exercise. It’s something that you usually don’t think about. But for those people who have a problem with walking, daily life can be more difficult.

Walking problems may cause you to

  • Walk with your head and neck bent over
  • Drag, drop, or shuffle your feet
  • Have irregular, jerky movements when walking
  • Take smaller steps
  • Waddle
  • Walk more slowly or stiffly

What causes walking problems?

The pattern of how you walk is called your gait. Many different diseases and conditions can affect your gait and lead to problems with walking. They include

How is the cause of a walking problem diagnosed?

To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam. This will include checking your bones and muscles and doing a neurological exam. In some cases, you may have other tests, such as lab or imaging tests.

What are the treatments for walking problems?

Treatment of walking problems depends on the cause. Some common types of treatments include

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via Abnormal Gait | Walking Problems | MedlinePlus

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