Find Out More About Neurological Brain Conditions
Neurological brain conditions cover a wide range of symptoms and treatments and can be caused by anything from physical trauma and tumors to nerve problems.
Here is a brief description of common neurological brain conditions and how they can be treated effectively by a qualified neurosurgeon:
- Acoustic Neuroma: This neurological brain condition is a non-cancerous tumor also known as a vestibular schwannoma. It can result from an overproduction of Schwann cells and commonly affects hearing and balance nerves that are found in the inner ear. In severe cases, the tumor can affect facial nerves and brain structure. Symptoms usually include hearing difficulty, a feeling of fullness in the ear, balance problems, dizziness and ringing in the ear. Treatment depends on a patient’s overall health and can include surgery, radiation and observation.
- Brain Aneurysm/AVM: An aneurysm refers to a weakness in an artery wall that bulges out due to the pressure in the artery. This balloon can burst if the wall becomes weak enough. Most aneurysms are very small and often go undetected and symptoms include vision impairment, a stiff neck, loss of consciousness and eye pain. A sudden severe headache can be a result of an aneurysm bursting, causing a bleed into the brain tissue. This is a severe medical emergency and rapid treatment is essential. These aneurysms are difficult to detect and factors in their occurrence include smoking, hypertension, genetics and physical trauma. Treatment for brain aneurysms includes observation as well as different surgery options to suit the nature of the aneurysm.
- Brain Tumor: As an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain, a tumor can be either benign or cancerous. It can originate in the brain itself (primary brain tumor) or travel into the brain (metastatic/secondary brain tumor). Tumors are caused by cancerous diseases, genetic abnormalities and environmental factors (like toxins). Symptoms include vomiting, personality changes, depression, seizures, slurred speech, selective paralysis and uncoordinated muscle movement – depending on where the tumor is located. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, steroids and antibiotics are all treatment options that depend on the nature and severity of the tumor.
- Cranial Nerve Disorders: Nerves are the communication and coordination pathways for your body and can be damaged by diseases, environmental factors and physical trauma. Symptoms include pain, tingling sensations, numbness, oversensitivity to touch and weakness. Conditions in this group include Bell’s palsy, microvascular cranial nerve palsy, third, fourth and sixth nerve palsy. Often, symptoms will decrease over time without treatment and surgery is often not required. In some cases, however, the nerve damage is permanent. The best treatment for these conditions is prevention and managing diseases like diabetes and conditions like high blood pressure effectively is vital.
- Hydrocephalus: This neurological brain condition is caused by cerebrospinal fluid gathering in the brain in unusually high amounts. This increase in fluid causes an increase in pressure in the brain and spinal chord and symptoms include difficulty walking, mild dementia and loss of bladder control. This condition can occur at birth or just after birth in babies or can be caused in older individuals after physical trauma or from certain diseases. Treatment options include surgery for the insertion of a valve to regulate the fluid or a catheter to drain excess fluid.
- Intracerebral Hemorrhage: This condition is essentially bleeding into the brain tissue as a result of an aneurysm, stroke or physical trauma. This release of fluid causes pressure in the brain to increase and can cause cell damage that results in temporary as well as permanent complications. Symptoms include loss of consciousness, double vision, nausea, severe headache, eye pain, seizures, loss of balance, confusion and a drooping eyelid depending on the location and cause of the bleed. This situation is a medical emergency that requires swift treatment in the form of various surgery options.
- Pituitary Tumor: These tumors occur on the small pituitary organ in the brain, located behind the nose. Most of these tumors are benign, but cancerous tumors do occur on occasion. Often, they press against the optic nerve, causing vision distortion. They can also affect the hormone outputs from the pituitary gland that can cause a variety of symptoms that depend on which hormone goes into overproduction. Treatment can include surgery, radiation, radiosurgery and medication.
- Trigeminal Neuralgia: This is a nerve pain that is focused on a patient’s face as a sharp burst of pain preceded by tingling sensations or numbness in the area. This is not a life-threatening condition and is generally caused by a blood vessel pressing against a facial nerve. Treatment includes medication, acupuncture, dietary changes, vitamins, and electrical nerve stimulation.
- Subdural Hemorrhage: This is a bleed in the brain tissue that occurs below the protective layer (the dura) of the brain. Usually the result of major or minor physical trauma to the head, this condition is serious, especially when it occurs in the elderly. Symptoms include confused speech, a severe headache, loss of consciousness, vomiting and visual problems. As an emergency medical condition, it’s vital that medical treatment is rapid. These bleeds can be treated with medication or surgery and is followed by rehabilitation treatments.
- Trauma: This refers to an injury to the brain from external force rather than from disease or infection, for example, a motorbike accident, a bad fall or a physical fight. There are two categories of brain trauma, namely closed head injuries like a sports collision or a fall, and penetrating head injuries where shrapnel or foreign objects have penetrated into the brain. Because of the fragility of the brain, it is vital that this neurological brain condition receives rapid medical treatment, which can include surgery, medication and rehabilitation.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of these common neurological brain conditions, it is vital that you speak to your doctor or contact a board certified neurosurgeon to receive the best treatment possible.