Brain Swelling: Recognize the Causes and Signs

Swelling of the brain or known as cerebral edema is a condition where there is a buildup of fluid in brain tissue. Swelling of the brain is not a trivial matter, so the cause must be immediately found and treated.

The brain is very susceptible to damage if there is edema or swelling because it is located in a closed cranial cavity. So when the size increases, the brain will be pressed against the skull. The brain can swell as a result of certain injuries or diseases, such as infections, tumors or strokes.

Various Causes of Brain Swelling

Swelling of the brain can occur in certain parts of the brain only or in all parts of the brain depending on the underlying cause. Some of the causes of brain swelling that you need to recognize are:

1. Infection

Viral, bacterial and parasitic infections in the brain can cause brain swelling. This can occur in meningitis, brain abscess, encephalitis, and toxoplasmosis.

2. Injury

Brain swelling can also occur as a result of traumatic brain injury or brain damage from a head injury. This condition can be caused by several events, such as a traffic accident, being hit, or hitting the head with an object.

3. Ischemic stroke

Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke that causes the brain to swell. The emergence of ischemic stroke is caused by blockage of blood vessels in the brain. This results in the brain not getting a supply of oxygenated blood. As a result, brain cells begin to die and swelling ensues.

4. Brain hemorrhage

The appearance of blood that irritates brain tissue can also cause brain swelling. This brain hemorrhage can be caused by many factors, ranging from injury, hemorrhagic stroke or stroke caused by a ruptured blood vessel, to the rupture of a brain aneurysm.

5. Tumor

Tumors growing in the brain can cause brain swelling in a number of ways. As it progresses, the tumor can press on other parts of the brain and may also block cerebrospinal fluid from flowing out of the brain, causing swelling.

6. Hydrocephalus

This condition is caused by a buildup of fluid in the brain, resulting in swelling. Hydrocephalus can occur due to a blockage in the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, impaired absorption of cerebrospinal fluid, or due to excessive production of cerebrospinal fluid.

7. High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

HACE is a fatal condition that occurs when a person climbs a mountain or is at an altitude of 2500−4000 meters. Symptoms can include impaired coordination of body movements, headaches, fatigue, and decreased consciousness. This condition is the most severe form of altitude sickness.

Symptoms Caused by Brain Swelling

Symptoms of brain edema or swelling vary depending on the severity and cause. Usually brain swelling causes symptoms, such as:

  • Headache
  • Stiffness or pain in the neck
  • Throw up
  • Dizzy
  • Irregular breathing
  • Memory loss
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Blurred vision
  • Inability to walk

One of the most dangerous complications of brain swelling is brain herniation. This condition occurs when brain tissue bulges out of its normal position in the head cavity.

As a preventive measure from brain swelling, there are several things that need to be done, namely always wearing a helmet when exercising, skating, or riding a motorcycle; wear a seat belt correctly when driving; and live a healthy lifestyle to prevent high blood pressure and stroke.

Brain swelling is a condition to watch out for. You will be more at risk for this if you have risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, have risk factors for brain infection, such as decreased immunity, or have a history of tumors.

If you experience symptoms of brain swelling and do have risk factors for this condition, immediately consult a neurologist to get an examination and treatment as early as possible.