What are the signs of head problems?

Head symptoms can occur as the result of a traumatic injury to the brain or due to an infection, tumor, vascular abnormality, or other condition. With trauma, symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the impact. Head trauma can cause a skull fracture or a rupture of blood vessels in the brain that can lead to hematoma (collection of blood in the tissues) and contusions (bruises of the brain tissue). Injuries to the head are classified as open (when the source of trauma, such as a bullet or glass shards, penetrate into the brain) or closed (when the object does not penetrate the skull).

Head Problems Spotlight

Symptoms of milder injuries to the brain include headache, dizziness, fatigue, lethargy, memory loss, confusion, ringing in the ears, sensitivity to light, and nausea with or without vomiting. In addition to these symptoms, more severe brain injury can also cause dilated pupils; weakness or numbness; behavioral changes; incoherent speech; muscle twitching, spasms, or seizures; and extreme sleepiness or inability to wake up.

Head symptoms also include headache, which affects millions of Americans each year. There are different types of headaches, including vascular (such as migraine), inflammatory, and tension headaches. Along with severe pain on one or both sides of the head, migraine is often accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light, and auras (visual disturbances). Vascular headaches also include those caused by fever or high blood pressure. Tension in the muscles of the head, face and neck can cause painful tension headaches.

Head symptoms can be important predictors of a serious underlying condition such as an aneurysm. An aneurysm is a weakness in the blood vessels in the brain. It can rupture or press against other structures in the brain, causing cerebral bleeding, severe headaches, loss of vision or double vision, neck stiffness, and eye pain. Stroke and transient ischemic attack are also serious conditions that can produce head symptoms. They occur when the brain is temporarily deprived of oxygen, either from a blood clot that disrupts the blood flow or a hemorrhage that causes bleeding in the brain. Symptoms include severe headache, confusion and memory loss, paralysis or muscle weakness on one side of the body, numbness, and personality changes.

Head symptoms can be caused by serious or life-threatening conditions, including head trauma, tumor, or serious disease. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of the following symptoms, especially if they occur after a head injury: severe drowsiness; abnormal behavior; stiff neck; altered vision, hearing, or senses; or loss of consciousness.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with head symptoms?

Head symptoms may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the head may also involve other body systems.... Read more about head symptomssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes head symptoms?

Head trauma can cause a skull fracture or a rupture of blood vessels in the brain that may lead to hematoma (collection of blood in the tissues) and contusions (bruises of the brain tissue). Concussions can occur when the brain is severely shaken during an injury. Because traumatic injury can impede or disrupt blood flow to the brain, depriving it of oxygen, immediate medical attention is required to prevent or minimize brain damage.... Read more about head symptomscauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves