Neurologists are doctors who specialize in the brain and nervous system. They see patients for a wide range of neurological conditions and diseases. If you’re experiencing any concerning symptoms, you may be wondering if and when you should see a neurologist.
Dr. Maria DeCastro is a board-certified neurologist who treats patients for everything from migraines to epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and dementia. She explains six reasons that indicate it’s time to see a neurologist and how they can help.
Reason #1. You have an existing neurological condition
If you’ve already been diagnosed with a neurological condition, a neurologist can help keep your health in check and prevent your illness from getting worse.
Neurologists can help with many different conditions, including:
- Migraine/headache disorders
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Dementia (such as Alzheimer’s)
- Brain injury
- Tumors or cancer
A neurologist can prescribe you new medications or therapies if you feel like your current treatment isn’t working. And even if you feel like your condition is well-controlled, be sure to schedule regular appointments with your doctor.
Reason #2. Your headaches won’t go away or are getting worse
We all get headaches occasionally. But, you should see a neurologist if you’re getting headaches frequently or they’re causing a lot of pain that isn’t relieved by over-the-counter medicines.
If your head is throbbing, you’re sensitive to light, or you’re experiencing nausea, dizziness, or vision problems with your headaches, talk to a doctor. If you also usually get headaches and notice that they’re getting worse or lasting for longer, you should also seek out medical care.
A neurologist can help determine the reason behind your frequent headaches and recommend treatment options to help relieve the pain.
Reason #3. You had a stroke
A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain gets interrupted. Even if stroke symptoms only last for a few minutes, they can have a long-lasting impact on your body.
You should call 911 or go to the emergency room if you suddenly experience any symptoms or signs of a stroke, such as:
- Slurring words or having trouble speaking
- Blurry vision or difficulty seeing
- Loss of balance or motor coordination
- Muscle weakness or numbness (especially on one side of the body)
- A severe headache
Always schedule an appointment with a neurologist after a stroke. They can check you for signs of hidden damage, help you develop a rehabilitation plan, and recommend ways to avoid future strokes.
Reason #4. You’re dizzy or losing your balance a lot
Our brains and inner ears are key to keeping us upright, but certain disorders can send our sense of balance off-kilter. Dizziness can feel like you’ve lost your sense of balance or like the room is spinning (vertigo).
There are lots of potential reasons for feeling dizzy, ranging from blood pressure problems to medication side effects, anxiety disorders, or some neurological diseases. Your neurologist can help diagnose the underlying cause of your dizziness and prescribe medications to help.
Talk to a neurologist.
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Reason #5. You have memory loss, confusion, or other cognitive problems
As we age, it’s normal to have some problems with forgetfulness or mixing up words. However, the National Institute on Aging recommends seeing a doctor if you’re regularly:
- Having trouble remembering important things or events
- Misplacing things and not being able to find them
- Getting lost in a familiar place
- Forgetting why you’re doing something while you’re in the middle of doing it
- Having trouble following along with directions or instructions
- Forgetting to do basic hygiene tasks, like brushing your teeth or bathing
Many different neurological conditions can cause problems with the way we think and remember things. A neurologist can perform tests to find out why and help you develop a treatment plan to address your symptoms and keep them from getting worse.
Reason #6. You’re struggling with nerve pain or numbness
Neuropathy is nerve damage that causes pain, muscle weakness, numbness, or the impairment of some bodily functions.
Peripheral neuropathy can cause hand and foot pain, while autonomic neuropathy can affect internal bodily processes like regulating body temperature and blood pressure.
Talk to a doctor if:
- You’re experiencing new pain, numbness, or tingling in your hands or feet
- You’re having problems with motor coordination or muscle weakness
- You feel dizzy or lightheaded when you stand up or exercise
- Your symptoms are interfering with daily life or disrupting your sleep
- Your existing neuropathy is getting worse or isn’t well-controlled by your current medications
Neuropathy can have lots of different causes, ranging from injuries to infections, medication side effects, or conditions like diabetes. Your neurologist can diagnose the cause of your neuropathy, help you manage neuropathy symptoms, and work with you to prevent nerve damage from getting worse.
Schedule an Appointment with a Board-Certified Neurologist
The bottom line? Dr. DeCastro says you should always talk to a doctor if you’re concerned about new or worsening symptoms. If you need help with any neurological symptoms or conditions, it’s time to see a neurologist to discuss your concerns and find treatment options.
About Maria DeCastro, DO
After traveling the country as a locum tenens neurologist and treating patients in a variety of different practices, Dr. Maria DeCastro settled in Tampa and joined Florida Medical Clinic. As a board-certified neurologist, Dr. DeCastro provides generalized neurological care with an interest in headache medicine and epilepsy.
Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to substitute professional medical advice. Every patient is different, so talk with your doctor to learn what treatment options are best for you.