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Description of the Symptom

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This chapter describes pathology that may lead to sensory abnormalities. Sensation refers to the registration of an incoming, or afferent, nerve impulse. Sensory organs, such as the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and skin, transmit information to the brain to allow us to perceive diverse stimuli.

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The sensory systems are:

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  • Auditory: the detection of sound or pressure waves in the air

  • Gustatory: the sense of taste

  • Olfactory: the sense of smell

  • Proprioceptive: the detection of joint or limb position in space

  • Tactile: the detection of changes in pressure, temperature, vibration, and other stimuli for the skin

  • Visual: the detection of light

  • Vestibular: the perception of movement and orientation in space.

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This chapter discusses abnormalities that may affect each of these sensory systems, except the vestibular system. Conditions affecting the vestibular system are discussed in Chapter 30.

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Special Concerns

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Sensory abnormalities accompanied by:

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  • A new onset of neurological symptoms, including:

    • Loss of balance

    • Falls

    • Severe headache

    • Impaired speech

    • Paresis

    • Change in mental status

    • Nausea and vomiting

  • Abnormal blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, or oxygen saturation

  • Changes in edema, skin color, and temperature

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CHAPTER PREVIEW: Conditions That May Lead to Sensory Abnormalities

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