Brain Swelling

Written by Dr. Mary

What causes Brain Swelling?

Swelling or edema is the body’s reaction to any type of injury. Normally swelling happens very fast and is simple to treat with a combination of ice, rest, elevation, drugs as well as other methods of removal of any excess fluid.


The brain may swell also because of an illness, injury or other possible conditions. The real problem is the brain swelling can very quickly create severe problems – including death. Also it is normally much harder to treat. That is because the brain is the body’s master control panel, and is vital to the overall function of the entire body. But, the bony, thick skull that protects the brain also offers very little space for the brain to swell.

Brain Swelling Symptoms

Usually the first signs or symptoms of brain swelling are changes in consciousness. If the individual becomes unconscious following a brain injury, seek medical attention ASAP. Only medical professionals can make the diagnosis of cerebral edema due to the fact that brain swelling is hard to notice by sight alone. Symptoms consist of:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in personality
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Numbness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Dizziness

Very often individuals will state that they feel fine as well as refuse any medical assistance; but, after the symptoms begin, progressive is rapid.

Brain Swelling Causes

Brain swelling is also known as concussion and is normally caused by a blow to the head or in some cases by violent shaking which causes the brain to hit the inside of the skull. In fact, any impact that has some force can disrupt the brain functions. Since brain swelling is often created by falling, individuals with any problems with mobility are at a much great risk of suffering from brain swelling. Children can be especially susceptible because of poor balance during early stages of lives. Individuals involved in sports with high-impact, such as football also are a higher risk for brain swelling. Other causes of brain swelling include care accidents, fallen object or violent assaults.

The most severe complication that is linked to brain swelling is increased intracranial pressure. The brain that is swelling increase intracranial pressure and can cause brain damage by the destroying of brain tissues as well as stop vital blood as well as oxygen from circulating thru the brain. When left untreated, the increasing of intracranial pressure can be fatal.

Additional to brain swelling and intracranial pressure increases, often individual can experience what is known as post-concussion syndrome. This can cause the symptoms of brain swelling to last for week or even months after the incident. The symptoms can include:

  • Headache that is persistent
  • Dizziness
  • Mood changes
  • Memory lapse
  • Changes in vision or sense of smell
  • Depression
  • Irritability

Brain Swelling Treatment

The basis immediate goals of treatment for brain injury are to:

  • Stop bleeding
  • Prevention of increasing pressure inside the skull
  • Manage the pressure amount
  • Maintain that blood flowing to the brain is adequate
  • Removal of any blood clots

Treatment can diverge depending on the type of injury that is suffered. The physician will decide the ones that are used. Some common management techniques include:

Positioning

Normally the head needs to be slightly elevated and the neck is kept straight. In this position decreasing of any intracranial pressure by letting blood and cerebrospinal fluid drain from the brain.

Restriction of fluids

It can be essential to limit any fluids to the individual. The brain is like a sponge and it swells after absorbing any extra fluid. So, limiting fluids may help to manage the swelling.

Medications

There are different types of medication used in the treatment of brain swelling. These include:

  • Diuretics used to reduce the quantity of water in the body. This causes less fluid accessible to the brain for swelling.
  • Anticonvulsant medications are used to stop or prevent seizures. Seizures normally occur due to any extra electrical activity in the brain. There are many types of seizures. The most common types cause the individual to have movements of the legs as well as the arms to have jerking movement followed by sleep.
  • Barbiturates are given when the individual’s intracranial pressure to extremely high and very hard to control. This medication put the individual into a deep sleep normally called a barbiturate coma. This can help stop more damage from swelling.

Ventricular Drain

This is a very small tube place into the ventricle. It can measure and control any pressure inside the skull. It may be used to drain off any CSF from the brain.

Ventilator

This is a machine that is used to support the individual in their own breathing, or gives the individual breaths. These extra breaths cause the blood vessels in the brain to become smaller and this helps control the swelling or pressure on the brain.

Brain Swelling Surgery

There are 3 types of surgery used with brain swelling:

  1. Craniotomy – the skull is opened to relieve the causes of any increased pressure inside the skull.
  2. Burr holes – Small opening is made into the skull in order to remove any blood clots
  3. Bone flap removal – A piece of bone is removed from the skull in order to relieve any pressure caused by swelling of the brain tissue.

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