Brain And Nervous System

Maladies related to the brain as well as the nervous system may be apparent as ailments accompanied with major physical mutilations, as in the instances of strokes and epilepsy; or be marked with major mental as well as emotional harms, as in the case of depression and schizophrenia.

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In fact, these ailments can be attributed to diverse types of brain and nervous system disorders. When the neurons die owing to lack of adequate circulation, it may result in paralysis, while epilepsy or seizures may occur when there is any kind of electrical disturbance in specific types of neurons in the brain. On the other hand, it is believed that transitory alterations in blood circulation inside as well as around the brain are responsible for migraines.

However, the precise brain malady that is responsible for mental as well as emotional impairments like depression or schizophrenia are yet to be ascertained. Nonetheless, there exist some scientific evidence that suggests that they may be attributed to malfunctioning of the neurons and neurotransmitters. For instance, the neurons in the brain may not be adequately active, too excited or there may be a lack of coordination among them. Similarly, the presence of the neurotransmitters in the region of the brain may not be enough or be in excess.

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Analgesics

Medications that help to alleviate pain are also known as analgesics. Providing respite from pain is a vital aspect of therapies undertaken to cure several disorders. However, we should bear in mind that pain is not an ailment, but a symptom of the ailment and, hence, if we want to provide lasting relief to a patient suffering from pain, it is necessary to treat the basic problem responsible for the pain. For instance, using analgesics can help us to get relief from toothache, but the pain can be eliminated permanently when we undergo proper dental treatment and take care of the teeth.

The nerve endings present in any body tissue are the first to detect any harm caused to those tissues due to an injury or disease. These nerve endings incessantly send messages regarding the health of the tissues to the brain, where they are decoded. However, the existing psychological condition of an individual may possibly influence the analysis of these messages or sensations in the brain. Hence, pain suffered by an individual may aggravate due to fear or anxiety. It has been seen that a lot of times offering a comforting account regarding the reason behind the distress may make it easier for the sufferer to endure the pain. It is owing to such psychological aspects, physicians occasionally prescribe sleeping drugs, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. These medications are often prescribed in addition to or as a substitute of analgesics, especially to alleviate pain in conditions that require prolonged treatments.

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Analgesics can be divided into two main categories - narcotics and non-narcotics. In addition, local anesthetics are also used widely to provide relief from pain. Morphine, which is a narcotic analgesic, is an extremely potent painkiller that results in drowsiness. Some of the non-narcotic analgesics include acetaminophen, ASA (acetylsalicylic acid) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), also alleviate pain, but they do not cause drowsiness.

Narcotic medications have a direct action on the brain as well as the spinal cord and, thereby, they help to change the sensation related to pain. The action of these medications is somewhat similar to those of endorphins - hormones produced naturally in the brain and which work to prevent the brain cells from transmitting the pain sensation to one another. On the other hand, non-narcotic medications work differently. They prevent the nerve endings located at the origin of the pain from being stimulated.

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If you are undergoing treatment for pain under the supervision of a physician or healthcare provider, it should generally begin with any non-narcotic medication. However, if this non-narcotic medication fails to yield the desired results or alleviate pain, you may change the treatment and use a combination of medicines - usually a blend of a gentle narcotic and non-narcotic medications. In case the less potent medications are not effective, you may also use a potent narcotic medication. You may use the injection form of narcotic analgesics for treating more acute pains, as in post-operative cases, or any enduring pain. On the other hand, if you are using an over-the-counter (OTC) or non-prescription drug, such as an ASA for treating headache, to treat pain, it is advisable that you consult your physician, provided the pain continues for more than 48 hours. You should also check with your physician if the pain recurs, deteriorates or the nature of pain changes.

Sleeping medicaments

Many of us often find it difficult to fall asleep or suffer from insomnia (sleeplessness). There are various causes for these sleep-related disorders. Most of the time, people spend sleepless nights owing to any temporary anxiety or some uneasiness due to minor ailments. However, when sleeplessness is a persistent problem, it can be attributed to psychological disorder, counting anxiety and/ or depression or owing to pain. Sleeplessness or insomnia may also occur due to physical disorders.

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Majority of the available sleeping medicines depress the functioning of the brain to promote sleep. These medications get in the way of the chemical activities inside the brain as well as the nervous system by means of diminishing communication between the neurons or nerve cells in the brain. As a result of this, the activity in the brain is reduced allowing the sufferer to easily fall asleep.

In general, sleeping medications not only cause rapid drowsiness, but also slow down the reactions of an individual. After taking sleeping medications, a number of people feel as if they are drunk and their speech becomes slurred, particularly if they do not go to bed timely. However, majority of people generally fall asleep in about an hour of taking the dose.

As sleep induced by drugs is different from the natural sleep, several people taking them complain that they do not feel equally rested during the night as they feel when they have normal sleep. This, in fact, is due to the suppression of the activity of the brain by these sleeping medications. In addition to suppressing the brain activity, sleeping drugs also repress the sleep wherein we have dreams. It is important to note that dream sleep as well as non-dream sleep forms a necessary part of a sound sleep during the night.

A number of people taking sleeping medications undergo various types of experiences, including a hangover-like effect, on the subsequent day. Taking benzodiazepines are likely to cause trivial side effects like drowsiness and dizziness during the daytime and even unsteadiness. All these side effects may prevent the individual from undertaking tasks that require alertness, such as driving a vehicle or operating machines. Aged people taking sleeping medications are more vulnerable to becoming confused. Hence, it is very important that they select their sleeping drugs very carefully.

Majority of the sleeping drugs have the potential to become addictive, causing psychological as well as physical dependence. This is all the more true when a person takes these medications on a regular basis for several weeks, particularly if the medication is taken in excessive dosage. Discontinuing the medications all of a sudden, the individual may also suffer from insomnia, anxiety, hallucinations and seizures. Some people may also experience vivid dreams and nightmares if they sleep for more than regular hours. Any individual who has been taking sleeping drugs on a regular basis for a prolonged time and desires to discontinue them ought to consult his/ her physician on how to decrease the dosage gradually in order to avoid the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

People who take sleeping drugs for an extended period of time often face the risks of being tempted to take these medications in excess of what has been prescribed. This happens more often if the individual has been using the sleeping medications for a number of weeks and the effect of the medications have decreased. In general, you should not take any medication in excess of the prescribed dosage. Taking barbiturates in excessive dosage may especially be risky.

Anti-anxiety medicaments

Nervousness or anxiety can mean two things - a normal response to genuine threats, or a common reaction to the tension and trauma experienced by us in our daily life. Although it may seem to be incredible, sometimes anxiety may be beneficial, especially when it provides us with a motivation to deal with challenging situations. Nevertheless, occasionally some people may constantly experience various degrees of anxiety, even in the absence of any real threat or traumatic or demanding situation. This kind of excessive anxiety is often occur together with hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system and is evident from the physical symptoms they experience, including trembling, breathlessness, palpitations, digestive disorders and most commonly heavy perspiration. In addition, some people may undergo abrupt attacks of anxiety, and/ or experience panic or fear occurring simultaneously with the above mentioned symptoms. Such attacks are known as panic attacks.

It is believed that drugs called benzodiazepines slow down the actions of a particular part of the brain, which governs our emotions, by means of supporting the actions of gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical. GABA binds to the neurons (brain cells), thereby preventing the neurons from communicating with one another through electrical impulse transmission. When the communication between the neurons or brain cells is reduced, it diminishes the activity of the brain, which is said to be responsible for anxiety. Scientists are of the view that benzodiazepines augment the ability of GABA to slow down the transmission of electrical impulses by the neurons as well as the activity of the brain.

Benzodiazepines also work to diminish the restive and agitated sensations as well as inhibit the mental activity by causing drowsiness. It is also believed that these medications lessen motivation and when one takes them in excessive dosage, they may possibly even result in apathy. In addition, benzodiazepines help the muscles to unwind and some medications in this group are especially used for this purpose. Use of benzodiazepines causes trivial side effects, such as forgetfulness and light-headedness. Precisely speaking, medications belonging to this class slow down one's responses. As a result, people taking these medications should avoid tasks that require alertness, for instance driving or operating machinery. However, benzodiazepines may eventually become less effective, because our brain adopts itself to their actions after we have used these medications for some weeks.

Most people are able to tolerate the effects of benzodiazepines, as these medications do not cause serious side effects. However, the greatest risk of using benzodiazepines is that people who use them on a regular basis may become physically as well as psychologically dependent on these medications sooner or later. The risk increases when people start taking large doses of this drug. This is the main reason why physicians usually prescribe these medications for a brief period - generally for two weeks or even less. However, sometimes physicians also prescribe benzodiazepines for long-term use for treating chronic cases, panic attacks as well as acute anxiety. Nevertheless, long courses of this medication should only be prescribed after weighing its benefits and harms to the patient, especially probable dependency of the patient on these medications.

People who have been using benzodiazepines for a prolonged period should not discontinue it abruptly. When a person needs to stop taking them, they should first reduce the dosage of the drug gradually. Moreover, it should essentially be done under the supervision of their physician or healthcare provider. Discontinuing benzodiazepines all of a sudden may result in several withdrawal symptoms, such as nightmares, extreme anxiety as well as restiveness. As benzodiazepines have a sedative effect, they are one of the most abused drugs. Hence, it is very important for any physician to prescribe these medications cautiously, especially for people having a history of alcohol or drug abuse.

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