Cerebral edema or brain swelling is a dangerous condition that results to the buildup of fluid in the brain. Eventually, the accumulated fluid increases the pressure within the skull which is referred to as intracranial pressure (ICP). Correspondingly, the elevated intracranial pressure can lessen the flow of blood to the brain and reduces the oxygen the brain receives. Remember that the brain requires a continuous flow of oxygen to properly function.
Likewise, it is important to note that cerebral edema can be hard to manage. In addition, it can also result to irreversible damage. Furthermore, this swelling can develop throughout the brain or in certain regions. If left untreated, cerebral edema can be deadly.
What are the signs?
Generally, cerebral edema might be hard to analyze unless additional testing and thorough assessment were performed.
Some of the signs to watch out for after an injury or infection that might indicate swelling include the following:
- At first, dizziness arises
- Lack of coordination
In serious cases of cerebral edema, some of the signs that might arise include:
- Memory loss
- Mood changes
- Difficulty speaking
- Changes in consciousness
- Lastly, weakness occurs
What are the causes?
Some of the factors that can result to cerebral edema include:
- Traumatic brain injury
Other possible causes include:
- Viral infections
- High altitude
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Incorrect use of drugs
- Lastly, bites from poisonous reptiles, animals and some marine animals
Management of cerebral edema
Cerebral edema can become dangerous. It must be managed right away. The treatment measures are aimed on restoring the flow of blood an oxygen to the brain while lowering the swelling.
It is also vital to treat any underlying cause to prevent further damage. Generally, the commonly used treatment options include:
- Medications – at first, these drugs given can lessen the swelling and prevent the formation of blood clots
- Osmotherapy – this technique aims on drawing out the water from the brain. The doctor utilizes an osmotic agent such as mannitol or high-salt saline. It helps improve the circulation of blood as well as lessen the swelling and ICP in the skull.
- Hyperventilation – controlled hyperventilation can help reduce the ICP since this causes the individual to exhale more than inhale, thus lowering the amount of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream.
- Hypothermia – induced hypothermia is often done. Reducing the body temperature lowers metabolism in the brain which can also reduce the swelling.
- Ventriculostomy – this procedure involves drainage of fluid from the brain
- Lastly, surgery is suggested by the doctor
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on cerebral edema is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the possible causes by taking a standard first aid course with Vancouver First Aid.