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When Do You Need to See a Neurologist?

June 11, 2020
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many people have chosen to postpone seeking medical care and are wary of going to a doctor’s office or the emergency department (ED). Oluwatosin Thompson, MD, neurologist at GBMC Health Partners, shared some important advice with Mary Beth Marsden about when it’s a mistake to avoid medical care.

“There are some neurological symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore because they could be signs of a serious problem like a stroke or brain bleed,” he explained. “If you have the worst headache of your life or experience sudden confusion, weakness, or vision loss, you should come to the ED so you can be assessed by a neurologist. With problems like stroke, we say time is brain. That means the sooner we can diagnose and treat you, the better your outcome may be.”

Dr. Thompson also talked about the effects of the pandemic on people living with dementia. “People who live in assisted living communities have been faced with lockdowns that prevent them from seeing loved ones and taking part in social interactions. That can significantly impact their symptoms, making them more confused and agitated. It’s even true for people living with dementia who are in their own homes who’ve been staying home to reduce their potential exposure to the virus, not socializing, and not getting as much exercise as they used to.”

He said he believes that major strides in treatment for dementia will be made in the next 10 to 20 years and that there are lifestyle changes people can make to optimize their brain health now and as they age. Those healthy lifestyle habits include eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, getting adequate sleep, and managing stress.
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