Brain Diseases: What Are They & How Can We Help?
Brain diseases can prove to be an extremely difficult time, even for the strongest of us. For this reason, and many more, we at Neurosurgery & Spine Consultants have the experience, expertise, and knowledge to help you. Our approach is always from a scientific and compassionate stance. We know you must be feeling many emotions if you’re seeking treatment for these brain diseases and we want to let you know we’re here for you every step of the way. Feel free to read on to learn more about the common types of brain disease and how we can best go about assisting you with treatment procedures.
Brain infections can potentially be a life-altering condition which may lead to permanent disability and/or death if not treated promptly. The most common brain infections consist of the following conditions:
Meningitis: a condition which consists of an inflammatory response around the lining of the brain and/or spinal cord. The symptoms present themselves in the form of unusual neck stiffness, headache, fever, and mental confusion. Antibiotics, steroids, and/or oxygen therapy may be required to recover from this condition.
Encephalitis: a condition where there’s inflammation of the brain tissue, usually due to an infection of some sort. Encephalitis and meningitis often coincide with one another; resulting in a condition known as meningoencephalitis. Antiviral drug therapy is usually prescribed along with fluid replacement to ensure the patient is adequately hydrated.
Brain abscesses: a condition in which a localized area of the brain becomes infected with bacteria. Antibiotics and surgery are usually required to treat this condition.
Seizures are an extremely frustrating and debilitating condition which affect a wide range of people. Epilepsy is the technical name of the condition and it’s often characterized by recurring seizures caused in part by abnormal, excessive electrical activity in the brain. Some common causes of epilepsy include head injuries, brain infections, and strokes. The treatment methods for epilepsy range from surgical procedures, to medication, and even necessary dietary changes in some cases.
Brain trauma can be caused by many incidents; yet one thing remains common amongst nearly all brain trauma cases; it involves a type of impact in some way, shape, or form. Below is a list of common brain trauma cases:
Concussion: This instance of brain trauma results in a temporary disturbance of brain function where one will sometimes “black out” and become unconscious. They’ll then come to consciousness with little to no memory of the events which occurred. Traumatic head injuries typically cause concussions and will often result in headache, and possible temporary to permanent concentration and memory loss issues. Therapeutic treatment approaches include self-care, rest, and rehabilitation. In rare cases, there may be the need for surgical intervention to treat swelling and prevent further complications.
Traumatic Brain Injury: this type of brain injury may result in permanent brain damage, memory loss, mental impairment, and personality/mood alterations. The treatment for this specific brain injury includes rehabilitation, sometimes a diuretic to remove excess fluid from the body, and/or surgery in the form of a decompressive craniectomy.
Intracerebral Hemorrhage: this condition causes bleeding inside the brain which typically occurs after a traumatic brain injury or a possible stroke from a case of high blood pressure. The treatment options for this condition consist of self-care (raising head while in bed), supportive care (IV treatment, reversal of anticoagulants, monitoring in ICU, etc…), medications (antihypertensive drug and/or diuretic), possible surgery in the form of “clipping” (a procedure where a surgeon places a clip of sorts to seal off a bulge in the artery wall and stop bleeding), and rehabilitation therapy to regain motor skills/functions and cognitive abilities.
Brain Tumors, Masses, & Increased Pressure
Tumors, masses, and increased pressure can sometimes be a great cause for a concern. Read on below to learn more about some of the most common conditions associated with this area of brain diseases.
Brain Tumor: this type of tumor is any abnormal tissue found within the brain. Whether the brain tumor is malignant or benign, it will most likely cause some issue to arise over time. Brain tumors commonly cause issues from the pressure they exert upon certain areas of the brain as they continue to grow larger and larger. The preferred treatment method for general brain tumors is to perform a craniotomy if deemed safe and feasible. If that’s not an option, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy is typically the next recommended treatment option available.
Glioblastoma: this condition presents one of the greatest challenges to medical professionals as it’s one of the most aggressive forms of brain tumors and can be very difficult to treat effectively. Treatment options consist of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment. Unfortunately, even with aggressive treatment options, glioblastoma proves to be one of the most fatal forms of brain cancer.
Hydrocephalus: is a condition where the fluid which is supposed to be properly circulating throughout the brain and spine is accumulating within the skull. Surgery, in the form of a ventriculostomy, and diuretics are the most common forms of treatment for this condition.
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus: this form of hydrocephalus causes a variety of symptoms to appear ranging from dementia to urinary incontinence. The pressure inside the brain will remain normal, even with an increase in fluid. Treatment options for this condition will often consist of diuretics and a surgical intervention where a shunt is placed within the brain ventricle, allowing fluid to drain properly.
Pseudotumor cerebri (false brain tumor): this condition is truly perplexing for many members of the neurology community as it presents the same symptoms as an actual brain tumor, yet there isn’t a brain tumor present. Symptoms are identical to those of an actual brain tumor. Treatment options consist of diuretics, weight loss, and possible surgery to relieve cranial pressure.
Brain Vascular Conditions
Vascular conditions of the brain can be complicated to say the least. Here, we’ll address the most common forms of vascular-focused brain conditions.
Stroke: this vascular condition is one of the most commonly known. The basic premise of a stroke occurs when there is a lack of oxygen and blood flow to an area of the brain, resulting in dead tissue to form. This dead tissue may be responsible for a specific functional area of the brain which controls your arm movement for example. After a stroke, this functionality may never be fully restored to its original form again. However, there are a number of resources to prevent further brain damage and promote a greater chance of at least a partial recovery. A medication known as tPA (clot buster) is commonly used when a stroke is first reported. This may minimize the potential damage caused by said stroke. Surgery, in the form of a carotid endarterectomy, can be helpful in removing plaque buildup within the carotid arteries; located in the neck area. Physical therapy and speech therapy can be helpful as well in certain cases of stroke.
Hemorrhagic stroke: is a condition which creates pressure and congestion as a result of excessive bleeding, impairing blood flow and ultimately causing a stroke to occur. Emergency treatment is usually required for this type of stroke as the effects can potentially become severe if not treated promptly. Treatment options consist of emergency surgery to repair blood vessels which have been damaged, “clipping” (a technique where a clamp is placed at the base of an aneurysm), coiling, and/or surgical AVM removal.
Cerebrovascular accident (CVA): simply another name for a stroke.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): this condition is very similar to a stroke, yet it typically resolves on its own within 24 hours.
Aneurysm: an artery in the brain will develop a weak spot and begin to swell in a ballooned fashion, resulting in a burst rupture which causes a stroke. Treatment options include endovascular repair and vascular grafting in some cases, while other cases may require anticoagulants as a medicinal approach.
Subdural Hematoma: occurs when blood gathers between the inner layer of the dura mater and the arachnoid mater of the meninges surrounding the brain. This in turn can cause headache, confusion, vomiting, slurred speech, mental confusion, and possibly death in severe cases. In said severe cases, surgery will most likely be required. Surgery for this condition consists of a surgical drainage procedure and/or a craniotomy and decompressive craniectomy.
Epidural Hematoma: this condition occurs when there is bleeding between the skull and dura lining of the brain. The source of bleeding is typically from an artery, occurring shortly after a head injury. Surgery is one of the recommendations to treat epidural hematomas and it takes place through a craniotomy. If left untreated, symptoms can progress rapidly and could potentially lead to death.
Intracerebral hemorrhage: Any bleeding occurring inside the brain.
Cerebral Edema: is the swelling of the brain tissue either due to injury or an electrolyte imbalance. Treatment options range from oxygen therapy, to IV fluids, to decompressive craniectomy surgery.
Autoimmune Conditions of the Brain
Autoimmune conditions of the brain consist of conditions which are occurring due to an overreaction from the body’s immune system upon the brain. These conditions can cause complications to arise in many different ways.
Vasculitis: is a condition of the blood vessels of the brain which may cause confusion, seizures, and/or unconsciousness. The treatment options for vasculitis often consist of steroids, immunosuppressive drugs, and blood transfusions.
MS (Multiple Sclerosis): is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks and subsequently damages its own nerves, ultimately resulting in a series of symptoms to arise. These symptoms consist of muscle spasms, general weakness, and general fatigue. The condition itself can have flare ups from time to time, or be steady in its progression. There are currently no treatment options which fully resolve the condition itself. Some alternative treatment options include talk therapy, self-care (exercise, diet, etc…), and anti-inflammatory medications.
Neurodegenerative Conditions of the Brain
Neurodegenerative conditions of the brain tend to lead to a degradation of brain function and cognitive abilities over time. This can lead to truly debilitating scenarios where a caretaker is often required for the remaining years of one’s life when they’re affected by these conditions. Read on to learn more about some of the most common neurodegenerative conditions of the brain.
Parkinson’s Disease: this disease mainly affects coordination through degradation of nerves within the central brain area. Tremors of the hands, stiffness of limbs, unintentional slow movements, and unstable posture are typical signs of Parkinson’s Disease. There’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, yet there are some therapeutic options which may relieve symptoms. These include self-care options (exercise), anti-tremor medications, and dopamine promoter medications.
Huntington’s Disease: is an inherited nerve disease which eventually leads to a degeneration of nerve cells within the brain. This in turn causes symptoms consisting of mood swings, depression, irritability, and overall physical/mental disabilities. There is now cure, yet physical therapy and talk therapy has been shown to possibly assist patients in certain cases.
Pick’s Disease: abnormal proteins build up over time in the front and side of the brain, resulting in nerves within the area being destroyed. Symptoms of this disease include personality changes, inappropriate behavior, difficulty with speech, and loss of memory and intellectual ability. While there are no cures or certified solutions for Pick’s Disease, some of the symptoms can possibly be managed with antidepressant and antipsychotic medications.
ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis): is a condition also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS causes nerves which control muscle movements and coordination to be steadily and rapidly destroyed, yet cognitive function is generally not affected in most cases. Eventually, patients will experience paralysis and the inability to breathe as a result of their loss of muscle control; leading to death, unless mechanical breathing assistance is implemented. There’s no known cure for ALS, yet there are some medications and therapies which can help prolong life and slightly improve quality of life.
Dementia: is the loss or malfunction of nerve cells as a result of strokes and alcohol abuse in many cases. Some solutions may consist of abstaining from alcohol consumption, cognitive therapy, and mental exercises to regain mental strength through therapy.
Alzheimer’s Disease: is a condition in which the patient’s nerves in certain brain areas degenerate, causing progressive loss of memory and mental function, and changes in behavior and personality. The buildup of abnormal tissue (tangles & plaques) within the brain is believed by some to contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, yet there are certain cognition-enhancing medications and self-care treatment options which may improve the condition in certain instances.
Choosing Neurosurgery & Spine Consultants
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with one of the brain diseases above and you’re seeking guidance, treatment, or even a second opinion; don’t hesitate to contact us using the form on this page. We’ll be sure to reach out with the next steps as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you soon and we’re eager to begin diagnosing and treating your condition.
DISCLAIMER: No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.