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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

Brain Hemorrhage: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

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What Are the Symptoms of Brain Bleeding? continued...

If you exhibit any of the following symptoms, you may have a brain hemorrhage. This is a life-threatening condition, and you should call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately. The symptoms include:

  • A sudden severe headache
  • Seizures with no previous history of seizures
  • Weakness in an arm or leg
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Decreased alertness; lethargy
  • Changes in vision
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty writing or reading
  • Loss of fine motor skills, such as hand tremors
  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of balance
  • An abnormal sense of taste
  • Loss of consciousness

Keep in mind that many of these symptoms are often caused by conditions other than brain hemorrhages.

How Is a Brain Hemorrhage Treated?

Once you see a doctor, he or she can determine which part of the brain is affected based on your symptoms.

Doctors may run a variety of imaging tests, such as a CT scan, which can reveal internal bleeding or blood accumulation, or an MRI. A neurological exam or eye exam, which can show swelling of the optic nerve, may also be performed. A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is usually not performed, as it may be dangerous and make things worse.

Treatment for bleeding in the brain depends on the location, cause, and extent of the hemorrhage. Surgery may be needed to alleviate swelling and prevent bleeding. Certain medications may also be prescribed. These include painkillers, corticosteroids, or diuretics to reduce swelling, and anticonvulsants to control seizures.

Can People Recover From Brain Hemorrhages, and Are There Possible Complications?

How well a patient responds to a brain hemorrhage depends on the size of the hemorrhage and the amount of swelling.

Some patients recover completely. Possible complications include stroke, loss of brain function, or side effects from medications or treatments. Death is possible, and may quickly occur despite prompt medical treatment.

Can a Brain Hemorrhages Be Prevented?

Because the majority of brain hemorrhages are associated with specific risk factors, you can minimize your risk in the following ways: 

  • Treat high blood pressure. Studies show that 80% of cerebral hemorrhage patients have a history of high blood pressure. The single most important thing you can do is control yours through diet, exercise, and medication. 
  • Don’t smoke. 
  • Don’t use drugs. Cocaine, for example, can increase the risk of bleeding in the brain. 
  • Drive carefully, and wear your seat belt. 
  • If you ride a motorcycle, always wear a helmet. 
  • Investigate corrective surgery. If you suffer from abnormalities, such as aneurysms, surgery may help to prevent future bleeding. 
  • Be careful with Coumadin. If you take this drug, also called warfarin, follow up regularly with your doctor to make sure your blood levels are in the correct range.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on September 03, 2014
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