When to see a neurologist

Primary care physicians play an invaluable role in the healthcare process, but some medical conditions require the expertise of a specialist. That's particularly true when signs and symptoms indicate a potential brain or nervous system issue. From brain fog, fatigue and frequent headaches, to stroke-like symptoms, or a family history of multiple sclerosis or another neurological condition, Suraj Muley, MD, medical director at HonorHealth Neurology, says many situations warrant seeing a neurologist.

"Anytime an MRI shows something suspicious in the brain, I'd advocate for getting to a specialist as early as possible," states Dr. Muley. "Also, if there are strange symptoms like numbness down to the hands or on one side of the body, or facial drooping, see a neurologist right away."

Stroke signs

While these symptoms are similar to those exhibited during a stroke, they can also be indicators of various neurological conditions. This is particularly true when the symptoms surface in younger individuals – under age 50 – or in those who have not suffered a stroke. Keep in mind that being evaluated by a neurologist is a must after a stroke.

Annual check-up

Dr. Muley also recommends that patients who have been diagnosed with a neurological condition and are undergoing routine treatment consult with a neurologist on an annual basis.

"New medications and therapies are coming out every year," he says. "Even if you've been on treatment for years and you're doing well, it's worth a consultation to see if there's something new that might be better."

Family history

A family history of neurological issues such as multiple sclerosis is another important reason to see a neurologist.

"There are genetic aspects of many neurological conditions," Dr. Muley mentions. "A neurologist can help assess your personal risk factors and give a baseline of your brain health."

Behavior changes

Another indicator of cognitive impairment or neurological deficit is sudden changes in behavior.

"Everyone gets and experiences brain fog from time to time, but if the people around you take notice and are concerned, then it's worth looking into," Dr. Muley says.

With so many variables surrounding brain health, it's important to be vigilant. Don't write off your symptoms as just getting caught up in your busy life. Instead, talk to a neurologist to see if the changes you and/or your loved ones notice could be pointing to something more serious. Remember, early intervention makes all the difference.

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