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What are Degenerative Nerve Diseases?

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In the human brain, there are about 100 billion neurons, or nerve cells, according to the University of Washington. These neurons send out messages through chemical and electrical signaling. Sensory neurons pick up sensations, such as the stove is hot, and relay it back to the brain. The brain then sends information to the motor neurons to carry out an action, such as moving the hand away from the stove.

But when there is a loss of function or structure of these neurons, it affects normal functioning. There are several different types of degenerative nerve diseases, which include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Parkinson’s disease, Friedreich’s ataxia, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare disorder that affects about one in one million people, according to MedlinePlus. Patients with this disorder have a rapid deterioration of both movement and mental function, with dementia occurring over a period of a few weeks or months. Two groups of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease exist: classic and variant.

With classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob, the majority of cases are sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, in which there no known cause. The other classic form is familial Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which makes up less than 1 percent of cases, is related to mad cow disease, noted MedlinePlus.

Parkinson’s Disease

With Parkinson’s disease, patients most commonly develop symptoms after age 50, though there are some patients who develop the disease in young adulthood. Parkinson’s disease results from the destruction of the nerve cells that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. When the nerve cells do not have the dopamine they need, they cannot send motor messages properly, resulting in symptoms such as tremors, slowed movements and difficulty starting movement.

Friedreich’s Ataxia

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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