Nervous System

The nervous system is made up of the brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves spread throughout the body.  In a way, it’s very simple: series of nerves carry messages to and from the brain, which interprets the incoming data and sends out (hopefully) appropriate responses.  And yet it’s much more complex — so much so, in fact, that it’s rather miraculous that this system usually functions smoothly!

Different nerve endings in the skin have different kinds of sensors — for instance, for pain, pressure, heat, and cold.  Our “special sense” organs also have special receptors that gather additional incoming information (about our movement/directionality, aromas, etc.) to be transported to the brain.  This sending of information is accomplished by not only the network of physical nerves, but also a complex set of chemicals that serve as messengers.  These various chemicals are involved in tasks such as transporting a signal from one nerve to the next, “coding” data (such as which odor elements have settled on smell receptors), and a sort of “filtering” of data that resembles operating an audio mixer (turning down “noise” and/or prioritizing certain input).

The brain interprets the incoming messages, shuttling them between its various subsections that serve differing functions, and sending back return messages to the rest of the body of what to do with the information.

Healthy Nervous Function

A healthy nervous system is a little difficult to describe, because problems with the nervous system can manifest in so many different ways.  Because this is the body’s control system, almost anything can be the result of faulty control, depending on which part is impacted.  Some symptoms often related to the nervous system include pain (that doesn’t have a clear explanation or doesn’t clear up as expected), tingling, numbness, headaches, dizziness, balance problems, disrupted vision, confusion, unresponsive muscles, etc.

Of course many of these symptoms have other potential explanations, too.  Pressure on the inner ear due to an upper respiratory infection may cause problems with balance, eye strain may cause a headache, etc.  So don’t panic over these sorts of symptoms, especially if they’re mild and/or fleeting, but if they persist or if they are severe, don’t ignore them.