Some illnesses are easy to self-diagnose and are usually not a matter of great concern. A stuffy nose, upset stomach, or headache may feel severe, but they usually clear up with a little rest, a change in diet, or simply the passing of time. But some symptoms, especially when they persist, could be a sign of something bigger. As with any malady that doesn’t seem to clear up, see your primary care provider first. In the case of conditions affecting the brain and nervous system, they may recommend a consultation with a neurologist. If you need to know what to look for first, here’s how to know it’s time to see a neurologist.
Headaches and Migraines
Most headaches are no big deal. Take an aspirin or ibuprofen or just rest your eyes or head and within a few minutes you’re feeling no pain. But migraines are an entirely different matter. Migraines tend to affect one or both sides of the head, and while they can persist for several hours, most can be treated with medication. On the other hand, if migraines persist for longer than usual, they feel more severe than previous ones, and include nausea, vomiting, vision problems, and weakness. See your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms. Also, while migraines can’t be cured, they can be treated and reduced in severity. A neurologist may be able to help with that.
Here’s another way for how to know it’s time to see a neurologist: when memory loss becomes more than an occasional occurrence. Everyone forgets things, and sometimes periods of stress and busyness make us more prone to forget the little things like where we left our wallet, times and dates, and people’s names. On the other hand, if forgetting things has reached the point where it’s interfering with your life, it might be time to see a doctor and neurologist. Memory loss can be a symptom of dementia or other conditions and can often be treated with medication.
Dizziness or Vertigo
Again, dizziness and vertigo can occur at any point in anyone’s life, whether due to a virus, a lack of nutrition, a lack of sleep, dehydration, or other factors. But if dizziness or vertigo continues without apparent cause and leads to spills and falls or passing out, see your doctor or neurologist. Something else could be going on in your brain or nervous system.
Sometimes we can’t help but be a little klutzy, dropping objects, bumping into things, stumbling, or having trouble finding our footing. But when these symptoms persist and life becomes more difficult to manage because of them, see your doctor. Sometimes the klutziness is temporary, but if it continues and worsens, ask your doctor for a reference to a good neurologist and set up an appointment for consultation and testing.