Brain haemorrhage – Causes and symptoms

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Haemorrhage literally means `blood bursting forth’. As the name suggests, when a major blood vessels ruptures inside the skull, it is known as brain haemorrhage and is a medical emergency requiring immediate action to save the patient’s life.

Brain haemorrhage – Causes and symptomsCauses of brain haemorrhage

  1. An aneurysm (ballooning of a part of the blood vessel wall resulting in thinning and potential rupture) is one of the causes of brain haemorrhage.
  2. Injury to the head also called head trauma is the commonest cause of brain haemorrhage in people under fifty years.
  3. High blood pressure is another important factor in causing brain haemorrhage; especially those patients whose condition remains undiagnosed or untreated are most at risk.
  4. Bleeding disorders like haemophilia may predispose to brain haemorrhage.
  5. Liver disease increases the tendency to bleed.
  6. Brain tumour – the blood vessels around a tumour may burst causing brain haemorrhage.

Symptoms and signs of brain haemorrhage

Brain haemorrhage or cerebral haemorrhage is a general term. It could mean bleeding between the brain and its coverings, between two coverings or between the outermost covering and the skull.

  • Cerebral oedema: When blood floods the brain, the brain tissue swells and this is termed as oedema. The swollen brain has no space to expand because it is enclosed in the skull.
  • Hydrocephalus: The brain is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid - if this fluid increases in quantity it compresses the brain. Hydrocephalus is seen in infection like meningitis.
  • Altered level of consciousness – The person may be drowsy, maybe unresponsive to those around or may be in a coma.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of speech or difficulty in understanding what others say
  • Weakness of one or more limbs
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Seizures in a person who never had seizures
  • Lethargy or decreased alertness
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Loss of balance or co-ordination

One or more of the above symptoms may be present, but it depends on the location and amount of bleeding so the symptoms and signs vary in different cases.

In the next article, we will discuss more on diagnosis and treatment of brain haemorrhage.

Photograph via Creative Commons

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