Brain abscess (pus-filled swelling in the brain) is a rare and life threatening condition
Brain abscess is caused due to bacterial infection in the brain. The infection in the brain may be due to infections in other parts of the body viz. ear, nose, tooth, heart, lungs and brain. Majorly, the heart and lung infections are considered to cause brain abscess.
There is more than one cause for brain abscess, which occurs primarily due to weakened immune system. The brain is protected from all infections. The blood-brain barrier filters out impurities from the blood. However, brain abscess may occur due to infection of the skull, through the blood stream and head injury. The infection of the skull includes infections of middle ear (otitis media), sinusitis and mastoiditis.
The weakening of the immune system may be due to HIV or AIDS, chemotherapy and intake of immunosuppressant drugs following organ transplants. Other possible causes for brain abscess are congenital heart disease, pulmonary arteriovenous fistula, dental abscess or tooth decay, pneumonia, endocarditis, peritonitis and cystitis. Head injuries by gunshot or shrapnel may also cause brain abscess.
The symptoms of brain abscess include differences in mental processes – confusion, decreased responsiveness and speech, reduced sensation and vision, vomiting, fever and chills.
RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS
Particular diseases and disorders may enhance the risk of brain abscess. These include weakened immune system, cancer and chronic illness, congenital heart disease, head injury or skull fracture, meningitis, immunosuppressant drugs, middle year infections and chronic sinus. Brain abscess may result in severe complications viz. epilepsy, meningitis, brain damage, headache, memory problems, balance and coordination difficulties, coma, and feeling restless or agitated.
TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS
The doctor looks for symptoms of brain abscess. After making a physical examination of the head for possible injury and swelling, the doctor may recommend for CT and MRI scans. In some cases, a small amount of cerebral spinal fluid is taken out and sent for infection test. This confirms the occurrence of brain hematoma or a ruptured blood vessel in the brain.
Brain abscess is a serious medical condition, as reduced blood flow may lead to permanent damage to the brain. Brain abscess may rupture inside the skull due to gasses produced by the bacteria. Medications help in treating any underlying infections. When abscess build-up is severe, surgery is performed to drain the abscess.