My Blog

Posts for category: Mental health

By Winchester Neurological Consultants
August 16, 2021
Category: Mental health
Tags: Sleep Apnea   Dementia  

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you are at high risk of developing dementia. The physicians at Winchester Neurological Consultants, located in Winchester, VA, treat sleep apnea to decrease your risk for developing mental conditions such as dementia.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a failure to breathe during sleep and can be either obstructive or non-obstructive. With obstructive sleep apnea, your breathing fails because an open airway was unable to open up despite the brain telling it to. However, with central sleep apnea, the brain fails to send that signal causing your breathing muscles to slow.

Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea

The body requires sleep for it to repair and restore itself actively. If you experience sleep apnea, you lack oxygen during sleep, which interferes with cognitive functions like memory formation, blood pressure regulation, and weight control. The physicians at Winchester Neurological Consultants, of Winchester, VA, know these risks and would be able to evaluate you for both sleep apnea and dementia.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome that causes a progressive decline in one's ability to think, remember, hold conversations, perform certain activities of daily living, and live independently. Alzheimer's disease causes most cases of dementia.

Why Does Sleep Apnea Place You at Greater Risk for Dementia?

Studies show that sleep apnea is tied to alterations of brain structure that are seen in early dementia. For example, the reduction of oxygen discussed above may be linked to the thinning of your brain's temporal regions associated with memory decline.

Obstructive sleep apnea already increases your risk of developing other chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. In addition, since dementia and obstructive sleep apnea worsen with age, you see the most significant link between the two conditions in the elderly.

How Can I Prevent Developing Dementia?

Most often, your risk of dementia increases when modifiable risk factors are present such as:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Depression
  • Hypertension

You can treat obstructive sleep apnea with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device that continuously blows air via a face mask to keep your airway open. By treating sleep apnea, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing dementia. However, early intervention is key to its prevention because there is no cure for dementia.

Suppose you were suffering from sleep apnea and are worried about your risk of developing dementia. In that case, it is time to call Winchester Neurological Consultants at their office located in Winchester, VA, to make a consultation appointment at (540) 667-1828.

By Winchester Neurological Consultants
February 01, 2021
Category: Mental health
Tags: Dementia  

Winchester Neurological Consultants in Winchester, VA, can help if you or a loved one is struggling with dementia.
 

The term dementia means a decline in cognition or memory. Dementia is not a disease itself, but a word for the effects on memory and thinking that are caused by either brain damage or diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease. These changes are significant enough to impact a patient's daily life and ability to be independent.
 

Anyone can be forgetful, so how is someone evaluated? There are lots of unofficial tests available online, but doctors use a series of tests to determine if there is a truly impaired memory. If you think you have memory problems, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor.
 

In the beginning stages of dementia, a close family member or friend usually notices memory loss in the patient first. Often they'll notice the patient repeating the same questions or getting confused by familiar people. There are several progressive stages of dementia. A patient is evaluated using a test called a Functional Assessment Staging Test (FAST). The stages range from memory loss to complete loss of speech. Specific signs of dementia may vary depending on the cause, but there are common symptoms:
 

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty with language and communication
  • Impaired judgment,
  • Any trouble with spatial abilities (getting lost)
  • Personality changes

Symptoms of dementia worsen gradually. The changes may happen quickly or very slowly over time. The progression and outcomes vary, depending on the type of dementia the patient has and which part of the brain is affected. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease.
 

There are several types of dementia that are all different depending on the cause. Lewy body dementia is caused by a buildup of a certain protein that damages brain cells, and vascular dementia is caused when blood flow to the brain is blocked or reduced. Mixed dementia is a combination of at least two types of dementia. Discovering the exact type of dementia can help pinpoint possible treatments. There is no cure for dementia but in some cases when caught early on, the progression of symptoms can be slowed.
 

Living with dementia also takes an emotional toll, and can lead to a loss of confidence and self-esteem. The symptoms can be confusing and upsetting not just for the patient, but also for family members and caregivers. Caregivers to patients with dementia often have their own stress and anxiety and need support.
 

If you are having memory problems or are concerned for a loved one, give Winchester Neurological Consultants in Winchester, VA, a call at (540) 667-1828.

By Winchester Neurological Consultants
January 06, 2021
Category: Mental health

One of the most important things we can do to protect our brain is to eat well! Still, eating for a better brain doesn’t mean that you have to eat bland food or get poor nutrition. On the contrary, making dietary changes to support your brain function can be delectable and responsible. The experts at Winchester Neurological Consultants in Winchester, VA, can help you identify some of the foods that doctors suggest to give your brain a boost:
 

Berries

These small fruits burst with flavonoids. Flavonoids are well known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities. Oxidation is a factor in the aging process, and inflammation in the brain correlates with not just pain but conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases.
 

Green Leafy Veggies

Green leafy veggies shine at providing fiber, helping your blood to clot when you have a wound and offer many micronutrients like vitamin A, iron, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals. These properties ensure healthy blood and a well-functioning brain.
 

Poultry and Fish

Consuming poultry and fish is a delicious way to provide your brain with Omega 3 fatty acids, lean protein, and healthy calories. For a healthier approach, be sure to consume proteins baked or broiled with a bit of olive oil.
 

Olive oil

A staple in Mediterranean diets, olive oil is known to clear the arteries of hardened cholesterol, which in turn leads to freer blood flow throughout the circulatory system. A circulatory system that is unencumbered means more chances for the brain to get a steady stream of the oxygen, vitamins, and minerals it needs each day.
 

Beans

Beans are a filling, healthful staple that assists in regularity and another form of lean protein for better brain functioning. Talk to your doctor about alternatives if you can not digest beans well.
 

Whole Grains

Eating whole grains is a great way to control sugar spikes, which affect our cognitive functioning. No more brain fog after eating staples like oatmeal, rice, and other grains!
 

If you need some more ideas on brain-protective foods and how to prepare them, contact Winchester Neurological Consultants in Winchester, VA. Our well-trained staff can help you craft a balanced, tasty diet that is also neuroprotective. Call us at (540) 667-1828 for a consultation today.

By Winchester Neurological Consultants
August 03, 2020
Category: Mental health
Tags: Concussion  

Concussions last longer than many people realize, often causing pain, memory problems, dizziness, and other issues for weeks or months. Fortunately, the treatments offered by the neurologists at Winchester Neurological Consultants in Winchester VA can help you manage your concussion symptoms.

What to do if you have a concussion

You've probably been advised to rest if you have a concussion, and although rest is certainly important, resting alone may not improve all of your symptoms. In addition to headaches, concussions can cause:

  • Memory and concentration issues
  • Problems with balance and coordination
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Brain fog
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Personality changes
  • Smell and taste changes
  • Blurred vision

Whether your concussion occurred on the playing field or a result of an accident or blow to the head, proper treatment in Winchester VA can help you avoid long-term effects from your injury.

If your recovery is taking longer than you expected, you may benefit from an evaluation at Winchester Neurological Associates. Your evaluation may include balance/vestibular testing, imPACT or Neurotrax testing, neuroimaging, and cognitive testing.

Your concussion care team will develop a treatment plan for you based on your symptoms and the results of your tests. Your plan may include one or more of these therapies:

  • Cognitive Therapy: Cognitive therapy will help you improve your memory, concentration, multi-tasking abilities, time management, and other problem areas.
  • Vestibular Therapy: If vertigo, dizziness, or lightheadedness keep you from doing the things you want to do, vestibular rehabilitation can be helpful. The therapy may include gaze stabilization exercises to help you control your eye movements and decrease dizziness and reading issues. Habituation, balance, and exertional training exercises may also help improve coordination and reduce dizziness and headaches.
  • Physical Therapy: Chronic headaches can sometimes be caused by neck injuries that occurred when you suffered your concussion. Physical therapy can help relieve neck pain and headaches and may also help you improve your balance.
  • Psychological Counseling: Dealing with the ongoing physical and mental effects of a concussion can be challenging. You'll learn relaxation techniques and skills that will improve your self-confidence and your ability to cope with your symptoms during counseling sessions.

Has your concussion changed your life? Call your neurologists in Winchester VA at Winchester Neurological Associates at (540) 667-1828 to schedule an appointment.

By Winchester Neurological Consultants
June 22, 2020
Category: Mental health
Tags: Sleep Disorders   Sleep  

The amount and quality of sleep we get can have an impact on our health. For example, a lack of sleep can lead to low energy levels throughout the day or difficulty concentrating. The physical effects of sleep loss are often readily understood, while the mental effects are less known. If a lack of sleep is affecting your mental health, the experienced providers at Winchester Neurological Consultants in Winchester VA can help.

Sleep Disorders

An occasional poor night’s sleep can leave you feeling less than your best the next day but is usually nothing to worry about. However, chronic sleep problems can harm your overall mental health. If you regularly experience difficulty sleeping or often feel unrested in the morning, you might have a sleep disorder. Some different types of sleep disorders include:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleepwalking
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Periodic limb movement

The skilled providers at our clinic in Winchester VA can perform diagnostic screening tests to determine if you have a sleep disorder. Once a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan can be developed to help you achieve more restful sleep. For example, individuals diagnosed with sleep apnea experience interrupted sleep due to brief pauses in breathing during the night, often due to the tongue blocking the airway. An oral appliance or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine can keep the airway open so you can sleep more soundly.

How Sleep Affects Mental Health

Sleep can affect your mental health in a few different ways. Prolonged sleep issues, such as those due to a sleep disorder, could potentially contribute to certain mental health issues. For instance, some research studies have shown that people who struggle with insomnia have a higher risk of developing depression than individuals who do not have a sleep disorder. Additionally, a lack of restful sleep could also lead to increased irritability and difficulty dealing with stress.

A lack of quality sleep can also aggravate existing mental health conditions. For example, individuals who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues might experience a worsening of symptoms when they are not getting enough quality sleep.

In contrast, achieving restful sleep regularly can potentially lead to better mental health. When you are well-rested you are likely to think clearly, concentrate better, have better recall, and enjoy a more positive mood. The knowledgeable providers at Winchester Neurological Consultants can help prevent sleep issues from adversely affecting your mental health by developing a plan to help you achieve better sleep.

Our helpful providers can help you enjoy better physical and mental health by addressing your sleep issues. To schedule an appointment or a virtual Telehealth visit, call Winchester Neurological Consultants in Winchester VA at (540) 667-1828.