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Warning signs and symptoms of brain hemorrhage


Is it just a headache? (photo by: Patrick Denker)

Sometimes a headache can be a scary thing.  Especially, when the pain is so severe that it affects every aspect of your life.  Many people suffer from migraines, sinus headaches, and stress headaches on a daily basis.  But, when does a severe headache become life threatening? 

This week, the nation has shown great concern for Poison front man and reality television star Bret Michaels who was rushed to the hospital after suffering a severe brain hemorrhage  Doctors have yet to find a cause for the brain bleed, but the report has been alarming as we learn that the condition is life threatening.  News reports claim that Michaels was rushed to the hospital after enduring severe headaches.  Conditions such as a brain hemorrhage, which is a type of stroke, require immediate medical care for patient survival.  Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of this ailment could mean the difference between life and death.

What is a brain hemorrhage?

According to WebMD, a brain hemorrhage is a stroke.  A stroke happens when an artery in the brain bursts and causes bleeding in the brain which kills brain cells.  13% of all strokes are caused by this type of brain bleed.

What causes a brain hemorrhage to happen?

There are several conditions that can cause a brain hemorrhage.  The most common cause to people under the age of 50 is a head trauma.  Brain tumors, aneurysms, and blood vessel abnormalities can also cause the condition.  Health problems such as hypertension (high blood pressure), liver disease, and blood disorders (sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, etc.) can also contribute to brain hemorrhages.

What are the symptoms of a brain hemorrhage?

The symptoms can be different for each individual.  They can occur suddenly and rapidly or symptoms can gradually worsen over time.  The most common symptom is severe headache that comes on suddenly and is excruciating.  This headache would be different from migraines or stress headaches and would not go away.   Additional symptoms include nausea or vomiting, seizures (with no previous seizure history), weakness in the extremities, vision changes, slurred speech, loss of motor skills, and/or loss of consciousness.

What do I do if I or someone I know is experiencing symptoms of brain hemorrhage?

Call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately!  The condition is life threatening and the person should be treated as soon as possible.

Can I prevent a brain hemorrhage from happening?

Preventing health conditions such as hypertension, liver disease, and head trauma will go a long way.  Illicit drugs such as cocaine can also increase risk of brain hemorrhage.  Taking good care of yourself and staying away from unhealthy habits could prevent strokes in many cases.

Is it possible to recover from a brain hemorrhage?

It is possible to recover from the condition completely.  Quick medical intervention can save lives in some cases.  However, some patients die from a brain hemorrhage as well.  The size of the bleeding and the amount of swelling in the brain predicts the patient's recovery.

If you are living in the Metro Detroit area and want more information regarding treatment of brain hemorrhages and other types of stroke, St. John's Hospital offers stroke education for adults in their Neuroscience Hospitals.  St. John's has locations in Detroit and Southfield.

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