What is a Hemorrhage?
Our body frequently undergoes several changes. While some changes could be medical illnesses themselves, some changes could be a sign of a medical illness, rather than the illness itself. Our body is like a machine comprising of various components, and sometimes these components are placed so intricately that a problem with them could be hard to diagnose. A similar condition could come up with a medical condition associated with the brain.
A hemorrhage is typically a condition that could cause one to bleed severely. The word hemorrhage comes from blood bursting. A hemorrhage could result due to an external injury or an internal problem, like an injury to the blood vessels running through the body.
This bleeding could cause the brain cells to die, resulting in a medical emergency that could also cost a life. Brain hemorrhage is also known as intracerebral hemorrhage. A brain hemorrhage is not another medical condition, but it is a serious medical emergency that requires the patient to be rushed to the hospital.
What Happens in a Brain Hemorrhage?
A brain hemorrhage is usually caused by a severe trauma that impacts the brain and its tissues. The blood resulting from the trauma or injury irritates the tissues of the brain that results in swelling. This is called cerebral edema. The pool of blood eventually turns into a mass known as a hematoma. This condition causes increased pressure on the brain tissues around the hemorrhage, reducing the flow of blood to the brain and thereby causing a death of the brain cells. In layman’s terms, a brain hemorrhage or an intracerebral hemorrhage results due to a sudden burst of blood into the tissues of the brain, causing severe damage to the brain cells. The area of bleeding in the brain can be anywhere inside the brain. It could occur in the spaces between the brain and the thin membranes that cover it or between the external cover of the brain and the skull.
What Causes Bleeding in the Brain?
There are a number of risk factors that are known to cause brain hemorrhages, including:
- Hypertension or high blood pressure: High blood pressure is one of the most commonly found causes of a brain hemorrhage. This is usually a long-term condition that develops into a serious condition with time. It slowly causes the weakening of blood vessels and the arteries, thereby increasing the pressure of blood flowing through them. When high blood pressure is left untreated for long periods of time, it could result in brain hemorrhages.
- Head trauma or injury: A head injury is one of the most common factors leading to brain hemorrhages, especially in younger people or people below the age of 50 years.
- An aneurysm: This is a medical condition that causes weakening of the blood vessels, which causes swelling. When the blood vessel swells up, it can suddenly burst and cause the brain to bleed often, resulting in a stroke.
- Abnormalities of the blood vessels: Certain conditions of malformation of the blood vessels could cause weakening of the blood vessels in and around the brain tissues. These malformations could be present for a person right from birth, but they may be diagnosed much later as the symptoms begin to show up.
- Amyloid angiopathy: This form of conditions is an abnormality of the blood vessels which is normally a result of aging and uncontrolled hypertension. This condition normally causes a number of small bleeds in the brain before triggering the major one.
- Blood-related disorders: Medical conditions like hemophilia and sickle cell anemia can lead to a decrease in the platelet count, which could suddenly cause a brain hemorrhage.
- Liver disease: Liver diseases often have an associated risk of sudden bleeding in general. This bleeding could occur in any part of the body, including the brain.
Brain hemorrhages or intracerebral hemorrhages could happen to anyone; however, the risks of this condition increase with age.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Brain Hemorrhages?
Although there are some specific symptoms associated with brain hemorrhages, they could vary in frequency, duration, and intensity. The symptoms of the disease largely depend upon the location where the bleeding occurs and the extent of the damage. The symptoms can appear all of a sudden, worsen progressively, or disappear all of a sudden.
Some of the common brain hemorrhage symptoms include:
- Fatigue and weakness triggered all of a sudden, along with a tingling sensation or a paralytic attack in the limbs or face, mainly affecting one side of the body;
- A severe headache that starts all of a sudden;
- Sudden onset of a severe headache;
- Problems in swallowing food, water, or even saliva;
- Problems associated with the vision seen in one or both the eyes;
- Lack of balance and coordination leading to falls;
- Problems associated with speaking, reading, writing, and other language skills
Brain hemorrhage is a serious condition which should not be ignored. Delayed treatment of this condition could even result in death or permanent disability. If you or someone around you is having symptoms of a brain hemorrhage, then you should call the emergency room immediately.
Diagnosing a Brain Hemorrhage
If you or your loved one is facing the brain hemorrhage symptoms, then the treating doctor is likely to recommend some neurological tests that are necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Certain imaging tests, like a CT scan or an MRI, will help in understanding if the condition is associated with an ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke.
MRI scans help the doctors see the brain clearly and understand the cause of the bleeding.
How Complicated is a Brain Hemorrhage?
There are a number of complications associated with a brain hemorrhage. The severity of the complication, however, would depend upon the location of the hemorrhage. Sometimes major complications could occur when the brain is devoid of oxygen for a long period of time, including:
- Language skills may be affected
- Swallowing troubles
- Loss of eyesight
- Sensations and the movements of the body may get affected
- Pneumonia infection
- Inflammation in the brain
- Seizures, anxiety, or depression problems
How to Treat Brain Hemorrhages?
Upon discussion with the doctor, you will get clarity on which part of the brain is affected by the brain hemorrhage symptoms.
The neurologist may conduct a series of tests, including imaging tests like a CT or MRI scan, which reveal the location and details of the internal bleeding and where the blood clot may be located. Other examinations like a neurological or an eye examination may reveal inflammation of the optic nerve.
Treatment for the hemorrhage depends upon where the bleeding is located or the cause of the hemorrhage. Surgery may be required to treat the inflammation or prevent the bleeding along with medicines that may be prescribed.
There are some patients who can completely recover from this condition; however, there are also risks and complications involved. There are also some parents who may find it difficult to deal with this medical condition. The possible complications of this disease include stroke, impact on the brain functioning, or other side effects from various medicines and treatments. This condition can also become fatal in some instances, and hence it must be treated as a medical emergency.