Brain swelling, also known as cerebral edema, elevated intracranial pressure and brain edema, is a medical condition in which the pressure inside the brain increases due to abnormal levels of swelling. Because of increased pressure the brain runs the risk of being deprived of blood or oxygen.
In severe cases, the swelling blocks the flow of different fluids from the brain, complicating the functioning of the body and can even lead to death of the patient.
Though there are various causes which lead to this condition, in most of the cases injury and rise in the cerebrospinal fluid pressure causes the pressure in brain to increase.
Signs Of Increased Pressure In Brain
Signs of increased pressure in brain generally vary with the age of patients. Infants mostly get vomiting, drowsiness, bulging fontanelle or bulging of soft spot on the head and separated sutures on skull. While adult or older children may experience headache, mostly nocturnal headache that starts when someone is awake and becomes severe when moving the head or coughing. The condition can worsen with the change of mental state of the patient.
In most of the patients, abnormal social behavior, slow decision making, irritability or lethargy may indicate early signs of this condition, which if untreated can lead to stupor, coma or death. Other signs include pupillary changes and vomiting, which becomes severe with the worsening of the condition. Unilateral ptosis, which is also known as palsies of sixth or third nerve is experienced by many patients.
In more advanced stage, patients may experience improper vestivulo-ocular reflex and opthalmoplegia. Motor changes or hemiparesis, slow irregular pulse beat, increased blood pressure and hemiparesis are also some of the signs indicating increased pressure in brain.
Treatment For Pressure In The Brain
Increased pressure in brain is considered to be a medical emergency and is treated mostly in the intensive care unit of any hospital. The doctors and the healthcare team of the hospital monitors the neurological behavior of the patient along with the vital signs like blood pressure, breathing rate, pulse as well as temperature.
Depending on the condition of the patient, doctors may prescribe medicines for reducing the swelling. Some patients may require staying on breathing support while for others doctors may have to drain some of the cerebrospinal fluid and reduce pressure on brain.
In some critical cases, doctors may remove a section of the skull to reduce the swelling. If the condition is induced by hemorrhage or tumor it is treated by prescribing medicines that lower the brain pressure.
Increased brain pressure can be best reduced under the observation of specialists. So, when the above mentioned symptoms surface, consulting a brain specialist immediately is mandatory.