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Tuesday, 24 May 2016 00:00

What to expect at a visit to the neurologist

A neurologist is a medical doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating disorders that affect the central nervous system. An examination by a neurologist may be necessary for a number of reasons; one of these could be to determine the presence of Alzheimer’s.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s can’t be easily diagnosed with a simple set of tests. It’s important for doctors to gather as much psychological and physiological information as possible, based on the person’s medical history, blood samples and mental and cognitive abilities.

What to do before your appointment with a neurologist:

Keep a detailed log of information that could help with a diagnosis, such as physical and mental complaints. Include problems you have noticed in yourself and anything pointed out to you by other people that you may not have been aware of.

What should you bring to the appointment?

Bring your journal! It’s also a good idea to bring all medication to the appointment, even if you have it written down in your journal. Keep medicines in their original packaging, and include anything you have taken and are taking, even if they do not necessarily relate to your complaints. Some medicines have side-effects that could present as symptoms of something else.

What will happen when you are there?

A number of evaluations may be done, including a detailed physical examination and also an eye test similar to those performed by optometrists. Your motor coordination will be evaluated and questions asked regarding your physical and mental health symptoms and history. You will also be asked about your current and past family’s history as well. This often comes in the form of a questionnaire with a rating scale.

The neurologist may request blood and urine samples as well as more intense (but painless) testing such as a CAT scan (computed axial tomography) or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

It may take several weeks for the test results to return and to be collated by the neurologist, and there is always the possibility that the results may require further tests if anything is unclear. Your results would be used to determine the best course of action or treatment to alleviate symptoms.

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