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Cerebral edema: causes, symptoms and diagnosis

The term edema is associated with an abnormal accumulation of fluid in a certain body region. As a general rule, they produce inflammation or swelling in the soft tissues affected.

The substance that is retained corresponds to the interstitial fluid and results from the filtration of plasma through the walls of the blood vessels. In this way it transfers nutrients and oxygen to the cells for their survival and removes their waste. When the amount of fluid that enters and leaves the cells goes out of control, it can cause an edema in the area.

Symptoms of cerebral edema

Cerebral edema: causes, symptoms and diagnosis

On the other hand, patients usually suffer from a series of alterations or signs that may be associated with this disease. In the case of cerebral edema, the disease is serious since the inflammation is limited by a bone structure: the skull.

The pressure on the cerebral mass increases in this situation and can even block the blood vessels that reach this organ. Therefore, all the nutrients and oxygen in the blood do not reach the neuronal cells, which end up dying.

Thus, the symptoms usually appear spontaneously and vary depending on the affected brain region. The alterations that appear with more frequency are:

  • Headache or headache.
  • Dizziness or vertigo.
  • Fatigue, weakness or general fatigue.
  • Discomfort or stiffness in the neck region.
  • Changes in the normal respiratory rhythm.
  • Blurred or indefinite vision. Also, in the most serious cases the patient can lose sight.
  • Difficulty speaking and walking normally.
  • Presence of convulsions.
  • Loss of consciousness that in more complicated cases can lead to coma.

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Causes of cerebral edema

Cerebral edema: causes, symptoms and diagnosis

There are different causes or triggers that can cause the presence of this disorder. For example, we can highlight:

  • Stroke. Blood is collected when an internal hemorrhage occurs in the affected brain region. This retention triggers a series of disorders that can produce edema in this organ.
  • . It is an injury caused by a strong and rapid blow to the head. Thus, an inflammation of the brain can occur that can present different levels of severity.
  • Viral or bacterial infections. The presence of pathogens in our body can cause different diseases that affect the Nervous System (SN):
    • In the case of meningitis, inflammation of the meninges occurs. It is a series of thin layers that cover and protect the entire Central Nervous System (encephalon and spinal cord).
    • Other diseases such as Reye’s disease or encephalitis also affect this system.
  • Presence of tumors in the brain, whether benign or malignant (associated with cancer). The formation of a lump causes an increase in intracranial pressure that can lead to the accumulation of interstitial fluid.
  • Poisoning or poisoning. We include, for example, toxic substances such as heavy metals (especially lead) or carbon monoxide (CO).
  • Hyponatremia Blood
  • Hypoxia (due to a sudden increase in altitude). The rapid variation of atmospheric pressure causes a decrease or lack of oxygen. To try to correct this alteration, there is a dilatation of the blood vessels that can modify the homeostatic conditions.

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Diagnosis of cerebral edema

Cerebral edema: causes, symptoms and diagnosis

As a general rule, the medical team carries out a series of medical procedures during diagnosis. Thus, the disorder can be identified and others with similar symptoms can be ruled out. Among the most used tests we find:

  • Physical exam. In it, the symptoms suffered by the subject are checked, their clinical history and recent activity are studied.
  • Obtaining internal images. Computerized Axial Tomography (or

Before a patient with neurological alterations, signs of focality or loss of consciousness, the medical team will perform the complete physical examination together with the imaging tests that it considers appropriate to rule out the presence of organic pathology.

Cerebral edema: causes, symptoms and diagnosis