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Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, degenerative brain disorder. Symptoms usually start around age 60. Memory problems, behavior changes, vision problems, and poor muscle coordination progress quickly to dementia, coma, and death. Most patients die within a year.

The three main categories of CJD are :

  • Sporadic CJD, which occurs for no known reason
  • Hereditary CJD, which runs in families
  • Acquired CJD, which occurs from contact with infected tissue, usually during a medical procedure

Cattle can get a disease related to CJD called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or "mad cow disease." There is concern that people can get a variant of CJD from eating beef from an infected animal, but there is no direct proof to support this.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus is the buildup of too much cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. Normally, this fluid cushions your brain. When you have too much, though, it puts harmful pressure on your brain.

Hydrocephalus can be congenital, or present at birth. Causes include genetic problems and problems with how the fetus develops. An unusually large head is the main sign of congenital hydrocephalus.

Hydrocephalus can also happen after birth. This is called acquired hydrocephalus. It can occur at any age. Causes can include head injuries, strokes, infections, tumors, and bleeding in the brain. Symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Blurry vision
  • Balance problems
  • Bladder control problems
  • Thinking and memory problems

Hydrocephalus can permanently damage the brain, causing problems with physical and mental development. If untreated, it is usually fatal. With treatment, many people lead normal lives with few limitations. Treatment usually involves surgery to insert a shunt. A shunt is a flexible but sturdy plastic tube. The shunt moves the cerebrospinal fluid to another area of the body where it can be absorbed. Medicine and rehabilitation therapy can also help.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a type of movement disorder. It happens when nerve cells in the brain don't produce enough of a brain chemical called dopamine. Sometimes it is genetic, but most cases do not seem to run in families. Exposure to chemicals in the environment might play a role.

Symptoms begin gradually, often on one side of the body. Later they affect both sides. They include:

  • Trembling of hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
  • Stiffness of the arms, legs and trunk
  • Slowness of movement
  • Poor balance and coordination

As symptoms get worse, people with the disease may have trouble walking, talking, or doing simple tasks. They may also have problems such as depression, sleep problems, or trouble chewing, swallowing, or speaking.

There is no specific test for PD, so it can be difficult to diagnose. Doctors use a medical history and a neurological examination to diagnose it.

PD usually begins around age 60, but it can start earlier. It is more common in men than in women. There is no cure for PD. A variety of medicines sometimes help symptoms dramatically. Surgery and deep brain stimulation (DBS) can help severe cases. With DBS, electrodes are surgically implanted in the brain. They send electrical pulses to stimulate the parts of the brain that control movement.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke