A brain abscess, or cerebral abscess, is a buildup of pus in the brain due to infection. Brain abscesses are often caused by a bacterial or fungal infection in the brain triggered by a head injury or an infection in another area of the body that spreads to the brain.
Brain abscesses are often marked by the appearance of severe headaches, fever, seizures, and even disturbances of consciousness. This condition is dangerous because it can cause swelling of the brain, so it requires fast and appropriate treatment.
Causes of Brain Abscesses
The type of bacteria that most often causes the accumulation of pus in the brain comes from the Bacteriode, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, or Enterobacter groups. Meanwhile, other types of pathogens that most often cause brain abscesses are the fungus Aspergillus or the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.
There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing a brain abscess, namely:
- Having a weak immune system, for example as a result of suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, or using immunosuppressive drugs,
- Have a middle ear infection (otitis media), an infection of the ear bones (mastoiditis), sinusitis, a tooth abscess, or meningitis
- suffered from a head injury, skull fracture, or had surgery on the head or neck
- Suffering from lung infections, endocarditis, infections in the abdominal cavity, pelvic infections, or skin infections
- Suffer from congenital heart disease (CHD) or abnormalities in the pulmonary arteries or pulmonary arteriovenous fistula
Brain abscess symptoms
Following are some of the symptoms of a brain abscess:
- Persistent headaches
- Neck or back feels stiff
- Nausea and vomiting
- High fever
- Impaired nerve function, such as muscle weakness, paralysis, or slurred speech
- Changes in behavior, such as restlessness or confusion
- Visual disturbances, such as double, blurred, or blurry vision
When to see a doctor
If you suffer from a disease that can increase the risk of developing a brain abscess, such as sinusitis, meningitis, otitis media, or a heart infection, follow the treatment given by the doctor until it's finished.
Diagnosis of brain abscess
The doctor will also carry out supporting examinations to confirm the diagnosis and determine the cause of a brain abscess. Some of the checks that will be carried out are:
- Blood test to detect signs of infection from the level and number of blood cells
- Scan with X-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI to find out the location and size of the brain abscess.
- Biopsy is used to identify changes in cells and tissues in the brain as well as to find out the pathogens that cause brain abscesses.
- Lumbar puncture to identify pathogens, including types of bacteria that cause brain abscesses
- blood culture to find out the bacteria or fungus that causes a brain abscess.
- Record brain waves, or an electroencephalogram (EEG), to determine electrical activity in the brain, especially in brain abscess patients who experience recurrent seizures.
Brain Abscess Treatment
Treatment of a brain abscess also aims to relieve complaints and prevent complications. Some of the treatment methods that doctors can use are:
- Antibiotics or antifungals to treat infections, including to treat brain abscesses caused by toxoplasmosis
- Diuretics and corticosteroids reduce pressure and swelling in the brain.
- Anti-seizure drugs are used to treat seizures that can occur in brain abscesses.
There are two types of surgery that can be done to treat a brain abscess, namely:
After surgery, the patient must be hospitalized for some time so that his condition can continue to be monitored.
Brain abscess complications
- The abscess recurred
- Damage to brain tissue
- Infection of the bone behind the ear (mastoiditis)
- Brain swelling
Brain abscess prevention
- Undergo examination and treatment to completion if suffering from an infectious disease.
- Maintaining the health and hygiene of the teeth and mouth, including by checking with the dentist regularly,
- Use protective equipment, such as a helmet, when working in an environment where there is a risk of head injury.
- Applying healthy sexual behavior to avoid transmission of HIV/AIDS
- Living a healthy lifestyle, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy, balanced, nutritious food, and exercising regularly,
- Do not take drugs carelessly.
- Get vaccinated to prevent certain bacterial infections, such as meningitis, pneumonia, and Hib.
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