Having a headache is not a disease in itself but it is usually a symptom indicating that something is not right in your body. You usually do not need to worry about the headache that is mild, occasional, and of short duration. Most of the times, headaches are the result of common problems, such as sinus infection, flu-like illness, sleep deprivation, fasting, or alcohol-induced hangover. However, you may want to seek medical attention when you cannot pinpoint the reason behind your headache, especially if you experience severe headache more frequently. It is also important to know that some brain problems can cause headaches and require immediate medical attention.
Brain Problems That Cause Headaches
So many times, the cause of a headache is not that serious, but sometimes, it could be the result of some brain problems. For instance:
1. Encephalitis and Meningitis
It refers to the inflammation of the brain, precisely the membranes around the spinal cord and brain. Both viruses and bacteria can be responsible for meningitis and encephalitis. You may also develop these infections due to a fungus. The most common symptoms include fever and headache, but you may have other problems too, such as confusion, stiff neck, and lethargy.
What causes the infection in the first place helps determine the best treatment option. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have a bacterial infection. Be sure to seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of meningitis or encephalitis.
2. Brain Tumor
A growth of abnormal cells in the brain or close to the brain can cause a serious headache. Brain tumors can be of different types – some are cancerous, while others are not. The size, location, and type of the tumor may determine the severity of your symptoms. Sometimes, the symptoms are the result of a tumor pressing on a nerve. Sometimes, a tumor blocks the fluid around the brain, which leads to swelling.
Common symptoms include headaches, problems walking, changes in speech/vision, problems with memory, numbness in the legs or arms and muscle jerking or twitching. Some people also experience changes in personality, mood, or ability to concentrate. Keep in mind that the presence of these symptoms do not always indicate that you have a brain tumor.
Stroke is one of the brain problems that cause headaches. You have a stroke when the blood supply to the brain is cut off for a short period. This often leads to the death of the blood-deprived cells. The loss of blood supply could be the result of bleeding into brain tissue or lack of blood flow. You require immediate medical attention if you have a stroke. The most common symptoms include partial vision loss, confusion, numbness of one part of the body, double vision, difficulty with balance, and difficulty speaking.
There is a loop of main arteries located at the base of the brain that is responsible for supplying your brain with essential nutrition. Any weak spots in these junctions can fill with blood and balloon out, which leads to the creation of the outpunching of blood vessels. This condition is called aneurysms. It is possible for these sac-like areas to rupture or leak and spill blood into brain tissue. Atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, heredity, and trauma are some of the most common causes of aneurysms. A severe headache is the most common symptom, but you may also experience vomiting, nausea, and change in vision.
5. Arteriovenous Malformation (AVMs)
These are defects in the circulatory system and usually develop during fetal development. Some babies develop these defects soon after birth. These defects usually have snarled tangles of veins and arteries. AVMs can affect the flow of blood and cause serious complications, especially when located in the spinal cord or brain. The symptoms are not that severe and most AVMs go undetected and are usually discovered during treatment for another disorder. Headaches and seizures are the most common symptoms, but symptoms may vary depending on the exact location of the AVM.
6. Brain Lesions
Brains lesions are also common brain problems that cause headaches. A brain lesion refers to any destruction or damage to a part of the brain. Trauma is usually the main cause, but some diseases can also cause malfunction, inflammation, or destruction of a brain tissue. A lesion may only affect one part of your brain, but they can be widespread too.
You usually do not experience any symptoms when the damage is small, but you eventually develop mental and physical symptoms with a lesion increasing in size. The location of the lesion plays a big role in the type of symptoms you experience. Some common symptoms include headache, neck pain, fever, nausea, affected vision and affected speech. Some people may have a difficulty making words, while others also have paralysis, seizures, memory loss, loss of concentration, los of personal control, and personality changes.