The brain is an essential organ responsible for regulating every function in the body. It controls everything from hunger, breathing, emotions, motor skills, body temperature, to memory, thoughts, and so much more. Thus, having a slight injury, infection, or problem in the brain can likely wreak havoc on a person’s life.
But what are the brain conditions that you need to watch out for? Read on to learn more about the different types of brain disorder and their causes.
1. Brain Tumors
Brain growths or tumors are abnormal cells growing inside the brain and can strike people of any age. Despite extensive medical research, there are still many unknown facts about what causes these growths.
Just like tumors popping up in other parts of the body, brain tumors can either be malignant or benign. Malignant growths mean they are cancerous. Also, they can either be primary or secondary brain tumors.
Primary tumors mean the cancer cells first started in that same growth. Meanwhile, secondary tumors indicate the cancer cells have metastasized in the brain but originated in other parts of the body. Whether a tumor is primary or secondary, cancerous brain growths can be aggressive and dangerous.
The most common symptoms of a brain tumor are:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Tingling or Numbness in Your Extremities
- Difficulties in Balancing or Movement
- Personality Changes
- Vision, Hearing, or Speech Impairments
What are Modalities of Treatment For Brain Tumors?
Many factors would determine what type of treatment is best for a patient with a brain tumor. These include the age, overall health condition, and the tumor’s size. If you have malignant brain growth, you may undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
But mainly, a patient will need surgery to alleviate symptoms of this type of disorder, whether it’s cancerous or noncancerous. If you need to undergo brain surgery, you must go to a specialist, such as Dickinson Neurological Surgery, because the brain is a delicate organ, and the treatment procedures involved can be complicated.
Brain trauma is another common type of brain disorder caused by injuries or accidents. Trauma, specifically blunt force trauma, can harm neurons, brain tissues, and nerves. When that happens, the brain’s connection with the rest of the body may be hindered. Some examples of brain injuries are:
- Bruising or Contusions of Brain Tissue
- Swelling or Cerebral Edema
When you experience trauma to the brain, you need to watch out for these common symptoms:
- Bleeding from the Ear
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Speech Impairment
- Problem with Concentration or Memory Loss
Car accidents, falls or slips, and sports-related accidents are the most common causes of brain trauma. For minor injuries, pain medication is usually prescribed to address the trauma. In some instances, patients may require specialized medication and rehabilitation. However, severe cases typically require surgery to repair or even remove affected tissues, primarily to relieve pressure in the brain.
Many studies are underway on how to best address brain trauma among athletes because of high-profile sports-related injuries, particularly in soccer and football players. Some of the medical advances include putting sensors inside helmets for real-time assessment of brain damage during a game and even using Artificial Intelligence to help evaluate CT scans of players and detect early signs of severe brain damage.
3. Cerebrovascular Diseases
Cerebrovascular diseases affect the blood flow and circulation to the brain. These can often cause strokes. These problems affect parts of the brain temporarily or permanently, and in many cases, it can lead to death.
Stroke is the most common vascular brain disorder in the United States. Someone dies from a stroke every four minutes, according to figures from the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. This problem occurs when a specific part of the brain suffers from the interruption, reduction, or blockage of blood flow. When that happens, the brain tissues stop getting adequate nutrients and oxygen.
Here are the most common types of cerebrovascular disorders:
- Stenosis: Characterized by narrowing of the blood vessels and restricting blood flow to parts of the brain. Carotid stenosis affects the carotid or one of the main arteries that carry oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Vertebral stenosis, meanwhile, is the tightening of spaces within the spine. Lastly, intracranial stenosis is the narrowing of other arteries in the brain.
- Brain Embolism: Characterized by a blood clot blocking a vessel in the brain. It occurs when the blood clot originating from other parts of the body travels to the brain and blocks the blood flow. Brain embolism is dangerous and needs immediate treatment and care.
- Brain Aneurysm: This happens when there’s swelling or bulging in the brain’s blood vessels. The cause of aneurysm is unknown, but when the swelling leaks or bursts, it can lead to complications, including death.
- Vascular Malformations: This refers to congenital abnormalities in the blood vessels located in the brain.
Cerebrovascular diseases can trigger a host of common symptoms. These include the following:
- Severe Headache
- Disorientation, Confusion, or Memory Loss
- Nausea, Dizziness, or Vomiting
- Weakness or Numbness of Extremities
- Sudden Slurred Speech
- Difficulty or Loss of Vision
Doctors can treat most cerebrovascular diseases with blood thinners, cholesterol medications, or heart disease drugs. Some surgeons might suggest angioplasty and stenting.
4. Autoimmune Brain Diseases
Autoimmune brain diseases happen when your immune system attacks healthy tissues and cells in the spinal cord or the brain. Such disorders could result in inflammation that can cause psychiatric or neurological symptoms and impaired brain functioning. Early diagnosis is essential for autoimmune brain disorders, but doctors may find it hard to diagnose them early because the symptoms vary.
The common types of autoimmune brain disease are as follows:
- Multiple Sclerosis or MS is a disease wherein the immune system hits myelin, the tissues that insulate the nerves. It can affect the efficient neural communication between the body and the brain.
- Autoimmune diseases such as lupus or Sjorgen’s may trigger central nervous system vasculitis. This disorder happens when the spine and the brain’s blood vessels are swollen or inflamed. Central nervous system vasculitis is a severe problem but treatable if addressed immediately.
- Autoimmune encephalitis happens when the immune system attacks the brain and spinal tissues or cells. Typically, viruses or bacteria are responsible for causing encephalitis. But in this type of encephalitis, the cause of the disease is the patient’s immune system. It’s a rare disease and can rapidly cause significant mental and physical health changes in the patient.
- Hashimoto’s encephalopathy is a brain disorder with an autoimmune origin. In this case, a high number of antithyroid antibodies in the body is causing the problem. Women are more prone to this disorder.
The common symptoms of autoimmune brain diseases include:
- Abnormal Movements
- Weakness in the Arms or Legs
- Sleep Problems
- Psychiatric Symptoms of Depression, Paranoia, Erratic Behavior, or Hallucinations
There is usually no cure for autoimmune brain disorders, but doctors can help manage symptoms with medication, supplementation, and physical therapy.
5. Neurodegenerative Diseases
The weakening of your nerves and brain over time typically causes neurodegenerative diseases. This deterioration may impact your personality and brain function. These diseases can cause permanent damage, and symptoms generally progress to the point that a patient’s quality of life is severely affected.
The common types of neurodegenerative diseases are as follows:
- Alzheimer’s: This is a progressive brain problem that triggers shrinkage of the brain. This irreversible disease usually affects thinking and memory skills. It eventually impedes the patient’s ability to do even the simplest tasks.
- Dementia: A general term used for cognitive decline, often observed among sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease. Some other types of dementia are Huntington’s, vascular dementia, Lewy Body, and mixed dementia.
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): Also known as Lou Gehrig’s, ALS is a degenerative brain disorder that causes muscle control loss.
- Parkinson’s Disease: Another progressive condition that affects mobility and movement. At first, symptoms of tremor and stiffness occur gradually. But as the disease develops, more severe symptoms appear. This includes the inability to swing the arms when walking or experiencing slurred speech.
The common symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases include the following:
- Memory loss
- Mood Changes
- Loss of Inhibition
6. Mental Disorders
Mental illness or disorder is an umbrella term representing various conditions that affect a patient’s behavior, thinking, mood or feelings. Such disorders can affect a person’s ability to deal with other people and perform regular day-to-day functions.
The most diagnosed mental disorders are:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Bipolar Disorder
The symptoms can manifest differently from one person to another. It’s even possible that two people with the same mental illnesses have entirely different sets of symptoms. However, people suffering from this problem typically show changes in moods, thought patterns, or behavior.
The most effective treatments for mental illnesses are psychotherapy and medication. However, some patients add alternative therapy such as yoga, meditation, and relaxation techniques to complement their medication and psychotherapy.
The Bottom Line
There are a variety of disorders that can affect your brain. It’s essential to read the subtle clues or symptoms of such diseases so you can immediately seek help and treatment, especially since many types of brain disorders are severely debilitating. Whenever you’re dealing with brain disorders, always consult your doctor.