Brain Abscess - What It Is, Symptoms and Treatmentswith medicines - antibiotics or antifungals. In addition, theBrain abscessis a swelling filled with pus in the brain. It usually occurs when bacteria or fungi enter the brain tissue after infection or serious head injury. Although the risk of developing aBrain abscessis extremely low in England, is a life-threatening condition and must be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. The vast majority of brain abscesses occur when an infection spreads to the brain from any part of the body, but mainly from infections in the surrounding areas.
About 1/3 of them occur by the spread of germs in the blood coming from an infected area in the lungs, or by a serious heart disease called bacterial endocarditis. In children, most abscesses are associated with congenital heart disease.
Causes of Brain Abscess:There are three main ways of developing aBrain abscess. These are:.
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- An infection in another part of the skull - such as an ear infection, sinusitis or dental abscess, which can spread directly to the brain
- An infection in another part of the body - for example, infection that causes pneumonia spreading to the brain through the blood
- Trauma, such as a serious head injury - that cracks open the skull, allowing bacteria or fungi to enter the brain
However, in some cases, the source of the infection remains unknown.
Symptoms of Brain Abscess:Symptoms of aBrain abscessmay develop rapidly or slowly but may include:.
- Headache - which is often severe, located in a single section of the head and can not be relieved with painkillers
- Changes in mental status - such as confusion or irritability
- Problems with nerve function - such as muscle weakness, slurred speech or paralysis on one side of the body
- An elevated temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
- Convulsions (adjustments)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in vision - such as blur, vision ashes, or double vision (due to the abscess exerting pressure on the optic nerve)
When to See Medical Advice:Any symptoms that suggest a problem with the brain and nervous system should be treated as a medical emergency. These include:.
- slurred speech
- Muscle weakness or paralysis
- Seizures occurring in a person with no previous history of seizures
If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, call immediately and get an ambulance. All symptoms that suggest a worsening infection, such as fever and vomiting, should be reported to your family doctor immediately. If your family doctor is not available, contact the local service late or call the NHS 111.
Diagnosis of Brain Abscess:If a suspected brain is suspected, an initial evaluation will be made based on your symptoms, medical history, and whether you have had a recent infection or a weakened immune system. Blood tests can also be performed to check for an infection. If you are referred to the hospital for further testing, you may have:.
- A CT scan - a series of X-rays are used to produce a detailed image of the inside of your body
- An MRI scan - which uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce a detailed picture of the inside of your body.
If an abscess is found, a procedure known as CT guided aspiration can be used to remove a sample of pus for testing. This involves the use of a CT scan to guide a needle at the site of the abscess.
Treatmentsof Brain Abscess:aBrain abscessis considered a medical emergency. The swelling caused by the abscess can interrupt the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain. There is also a risk of explosion of abscesses (rupture). If left untreated, a brain abscess can cause permanent brain damage and can be fatal. aBrain abscessis usually treated using a combination of:
- Medicines- antibiotics or antifungals
- Surgery- draining the pus through a hole in the skull (simple aspiration) or opening the skull and removing the abscess entirely (craniotomy)
Antibiotic treatment usually begins before the diagnosis is confirmed to reduce the risk of complications..
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Complicationsof Brain Abscess:The complications of aBrain abscessmay include:
- Recurrent abscess - seek immediate medical advice if you think there is even a small abscess has occurred; This is more common in people with a weakened immune system or heart disease cyanotic
- Brain damage - mild to moderate brain damage often improves over time, but brain damage likely to be permanent; Brain damage is more of a risk if diagnosis and treatment are late
- Epilepsy - where a person has repeated seizures (fits)
- Meningitis - a potentially fatal infection of the protective membranes around the brain, which requires urgent treatment; This is more common in children.
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