Yes, Your Brain Can Swell: It’s Called Cerebral Edema

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Cerebral edema, commonly known as brain swelling, is basically increased pressure in the head that could interfere with the blood-brain barrier. Essentially, it’s one of the ways the body responds to infection, stroke, or trauma.

Since your brain is protected inside your skull, ICP or increase intracranial pressure could hinder oxygenated blood from flowing freely to your brain, stop fluids from exiting your brain, or in more severe cases, damage or destroy your brain cells.

An individual with cerebral edema might feel symptoms such as persistent headaches, loss of consciousness, memory loss, and nausea. The most vital thing to remember about cerebral edema though is that it’s a potentially fatal condition that could result in brain damage, or worse, death, if not addressed as soon as possible.

That said, visit a neurology specialist in American Fork if you suspect you or someone you know has cerebral edema.

Common Causes of Cerebral Edema

Many different things can cause cerebral edema, with the following being the most common:

  • Infections – Different kinds of diseases can cause swelling in the brain, including meningitis and encephalitis, as well as various bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections.
  • TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury – This is basically any injury to the head that can lead to swelling, bruising, and/or bleeding in the brain.
  • Stroke – Approximately 80% of strokes are due to artery blockage in the brain that results in oxygenated blood not reaching your brain cells.
  • Tumors – These are abnormal cell growths inside the skull or brain. They can block cerebrospinal fluid and/or displace or compress brain tissue, which in turn can cause pressure and swelling.
  • Brain Hemorrhage – This occurs when there’s bleeding around or within the brain, causing swelling and elevated intracranial pressure.
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke – This happens when brain cells get destroyed due to a torn or ruptured brain blood vessel.
  • High Altitudes – Some individuals could develop HACE or high-altitude cerebral edema approximately two days after climbing 13,123 feet. It occurs alongside an altered mental state, ataxia fatigue, and AMS or acute mountain sickness. If not addressed within 24 hours after symptoms set in, it could lead to coma, or worse, death.
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Common Warning Signs of Cerebral Edema

In general, suspected cerebral edema isn’t a symptom that would compel an individual to go to the hospital. Most individuals usually experience a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or certain neurological symptoms before establishing brain swelling.

It is a consequence or symptom of an underlying undiagnosed condition. Symptoms vary significantly based on what’s causing the brain swelling and could be severely painful. The location of the swelling, brain size and the age of the individual could likewise affect the severity of the symptoms.

With that said, common cerebral edema warning signs typically include:

  • Persistent headaches
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Memory issues
  • Vision loss
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty moving
  • Neck pain
  • Loss of consciousness

Brain swelling or cerebral edema could have irreversible and severe consequences. Outlook could differ significantly based on its severity, location, and how quickly or not you obtain proper treatment. Because of these factors, it is very important that you get appropriate and immediate treatment to reduce your risk of developing complications.