Brain Abscess Symptoms: Causes, Diagnosis And Treatment Options

Brain abscess refers to a swollen condition of the brain caused due to pus-filling as a side effect to infection. This is an extremely rare medical condition and holds severe risk to the life of the patient. Though there are multiple symptoms, severe headache, which is uncontrollable even after taking painkillers is the most pronounced and common symptoms.

Sudden alteration of mental state, seizures, high fever or even paralysis and weakness in any particular section of the body can indicate brain abscess. Swelling of the brain should not be ignored as it can cause disruption of blood as well as oxygen supply in the body.

This disease can also lead to epilepsy or damage of brain.

Common Causes Of Brain Abscess

Brain abscess in most of the cases occur, when there is a fungal or bacterial infection in any section of the brain, resulting in irritation or swelling of that particular area. The infected area is covered with a mass that is caused due to excess growth of tissue and accumulation of fungi, bacteria, white blood cells as well as infected cells.

In most of the cases, the immune system of the body automatically starts responding to the infection however the response worsens the condition. It may cause the brain to swell, thus increasing pressure on the brain tissue or may block the blood vessels connecting the brain.

Sometimes, determining the original cause of the affliction is difficult. Yet, most of the patients get this condition after chest infection which is carried to the brain by the blood. However, heart infection can be a cause of this condition as well.

Some patients may also get the germ from any other injury or from any other infected area of the body. Children with congenital blood vessel defect or heart ailments may get brain abscess.

Though the causes can be various, the risk of contracting this disease increases if the patients have any chronic disease like cancer, weakened immune system, or are going through any therapy that can suppress immune power of the body.

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Brain Abscess

Diagnosis of this disease is quite difficult in most of the cases as the symptoms are extremely general. In most of the cases, patients consult doctors after two to three weeks of the infection, when the symptoms become extremely prominent.

To diagnose abscess, doctors refer tests like magnetic resonance imaging also known as MRI or computed tomography scanning. These tests give a picture of the brain and helps in identifying the condition. However, in some cases, if the test images are not quite prominent, a neurosurgeon may have to remove a section of brain abscess using a fine needle to check the growth.

Doctors start the treatment of the condition by prescribing antibiotics and depending on the condition decide whether to go for surgical or non-surgical procedure.

Surgery is avoided if the patients have multiple abscesses or when it is located deep inside the brain. Extremely small sized abscesses are also cured with medication and do not require surgery. If meningitis and abscess are present at the same time or when there is shunt in the brain, doctors opt for medication to heal the condition. Toxoplasma infection, which generally occurs in patients with HIV are also treated non-surgically.

Surgery is mostly required if there is rupture in the abscess or when there is bacterial gas in the affected region. Patients who get increased pressure in brain may also have to go for surgery. In some cases, abscess does not reduce in size even after medication, leading to surgery.

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