When you have a brain tumor, there’s a growth of abnormal cells in your brain. These masses can occur in any brain tissue, including the:
- Brain itself
- Membranes covering the brain (meninges)
- Cranial nerves
- Pineal gland
- Pituitary gland
Brain tumors can either start in your brain or spread there from other parts of your body. If it originates in the region of your brain, you have a primary tumor. When cancer spreads to your brain from somewhere else in your body, you have a metastatic or secondary brain tumor.
There are more than 150 kinds of brain tumors, and some tumors are cancerous (malignant) and others are benign (noncancerous). Even though brain tumors vary, they can still cause several symptoms when present.
As an experienced neurosurgeon at Cerebrum MD in Tyson’s Corner, Vienna, Virginia, Joseph Watson, MD, specializes in treating brain conditions, including brain and pituitary tumors. He recommends watching for these general signs and seeking medical attention for a diagnosis if they arise.
A brain tumor can interfere with the electrical signals in your brain, leading to seizures. It’s important to note that fewer than 1 in 10 seizures occur because of a brain tumor. However, at least 50% of brain tumor patients have a seizure, and for many, a seizure is the first sign of a problem.
Worsening headache symptoms
Nearly half of brain tumor patients report new or changing headache patterns, making it one of the most common signs of a brain tumor. These headache symptoms often include:
- Persistent pain that feels different from a migraine or tension headache
- More pain upon waking
- New neurological symptoms, such as blurred, double, or loss of vision
- Pain that worsens with activities, such as coughing, moving, or exercising
These types of headaches usually don’t respond to over-the-counter medications and also don’t have obvious causes, such as food triggers, vigorous exercise, or a concussion. Like seizures, most headaches aren’t caused by brain tumors, so having persistent headaches doesn’t guarantee you have a tumor.
Behavior changes or memory loss
When you have a brain tumor, it can interfere with healthy brain function, leading to personality changes and mood swings. These differences can include:
- Being easily irritated even though you used to be easy going
- Growing passive when you used to be a self-starter
- Becoming argumentative for no reason
Brain tumors at any stage can also trigger cognitive problems, making it difficult to concentrate or perform the simplest tasks. It’s also common to experience short-term memory issues and have trouble multitasking or planning things.
Fatigue, weakness, or numbness
Everyone feels tired from time to time. But, if you feel absolutely exhausted most or all of the time or find yourself falling asleep in the middle of the day, it could be a sign of a more serious problem.
Similarly, brain tumors can also cause feelings of weakness throughout your body as well as tingling or numbness in your hands and feet. In many cases, these symptoms occur on one side of the body, which can give Dr. Watson clues about its location.
Remember, you can experience any of these symptoms for a variety of reasons, so you should never assume you have a brain tumor. If you do have a brain tumor, Dr. Watson and his team can develop a personalized treatment strategy based on its type, size, and location.
To learn more about brain tumor diagnosis and treatment, book an appointment online or over the phone with Cerebrum MD today.