Brain Hemorrhage

Hemorrhage in the brain refers to bleeding in the brain that can occur in the brain, between the membranes that cover the brain, or between the skull and the brain covering. Brain hemorrhages are also known as intracranial hemorrhages, cerebral hemorrhages, or intracerebral hemorrhages. A brain hemorrhage is a type of stroke caused when blood vessels burst resulting in localized bleeding in the brain. The leakage of blood kills the brain cells surrounding the area and the patient becomes critically ill. Brain hemorrhages require immediate medical attention or they can be fatal.

Symptoms of Brain Hemorrhage

Depending on the location of the bleeding, the amount of tissue affected by the bleeding and the severity of the bleeding, symptoms of brain hemorrhage can vary from person to person. In some cases, symptoms may become evident only over time, whereas in other cases, they can appear suddenly. Brain hemorrhage symptoms may also worsen in severity over time. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call 911 or get to an emergency room immediately as a brain hemorrhage is a life-threatening condition that requires prompt medical attention:

  • A headache that is severe and occurs suddenly is the main symptom of a brain hemorrhage. The pain associated with a brain hemorrhage is often so severe that patients have referred to it as ‘the worst headache of their lives.’ A headache caused by a hemorrhage feels worse if you lay flat, change position, strain, bend or cough.
  • Seizures may be observed, despite no previous history of seizures, when the blood comes in contact with the brain cells. This causes irritation to the brain tissue and leads to nerve cells firing off involuntarily, resulting in a seizure.
  • Feelings of weakness, of numbness in your arm or leg
  • Feeling of paralysis
  • Unexplained nausea or vomiting caused by the increased pressure in the brain
  • Lethargy and excessive drowsiness
  • Decreased alertness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Disturbances in vision
  • Tingling feeling in the arms of legs
  • A ‘blown pupil’ where the pupil of one eye is completely dilated and does not react or constrict when light is shined into the eye.
  • Inability to speak clearly or understand what is being said
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty in normal skills such as reading or writing
  • Tremors in the hand
  • Breathing problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of fine motor skills
  • Lack of coordination
  • Inability to balance
  • Abnormal sense of taste
  • Dizziness or fainting spells
  • Loss of consciousness

Causes of Brain Hemorrhage

Certain people fall into the high-risk category for brain hemorrhages such as those who suffer from high blood pressure, those who are elderly, and those who have weak blood vessels. Other causes of brain hemorrhage include:

  • Trauma or injury to the head that causes blood clots and bleeding
  • Aneurysm (when the blood vessel wall weakens to the extent that it bursts and bleeds in the brain)
  • Amyloid angiopathy (refers to an abnormality in the walls of the blood vessel generally due to aging)
  • Hemophilia or Sickle cell anemia
  • Liver disease (as it causes increased bleeding)
  • Tumors in the brain
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • Family history of stroke and brain hemorrhages
  • Perforated or clogged blood vessels in the brain
  • Genetic mutation
  • People on anti-coagulant medications
  • Malformation of the brain
  • Certain drugs and medications can increase the chances of bleeding
  • Diabetes
  • Menopause
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise, inactivity, obesity

Remedies for Brain Hemorrhage

In order to determine which part of the brain is affected by the bleeding, your doctor will run a number of specialized tests. These include imaging tests such as a CT scan or an MRI. An eye exam, neurological exam, blood tests and a lumbar puncture may also be carried out to reveal the extent of the internal bleeding and the severity of the condition.

Treatment for a brain hemorrhage will depend on the cause of the bleeding, the extent of the bleeding and tissue damage as well as the location of the bleeding. If the swelling is severe, immediate surgery may be necessary. Medications to treat the bleeding and reduce the symptoms will also be prescribed. These could include painkillers, diuretics and corticosteroids to manage the swelling, and anti-convulsant drugs to prevent further seizures. Intravenous fluids may also be administered if needed. Other treatments for brain hemorrhage include Interventional Radiology, Diagnostic Radiology, and Micro-Surgical techniques.

The size of the hemorrhage and the extent of swelling will help doctors establish the course of treatment, the chances of recovery or impediments to complete recovery if any. Some patients may recover completely, especially if symptoms are recognized in time and medical attention is prompt. Brain hemorrhages could also result in complications such as loss of brain function and strokes or paralysis. There may also be side effects from the surgery and medications prescribed. No matter how swiftly treatment is provided, you should keep in mind that there is a high risk of fatalities, when dealing with brain hemorrhaging.

Brain hemorrhage recovery depends on a number of different factors such as the speed at which the brain hemorrhage was identified. Symptoms such as nausea and vomiting or headaches are generally taken lightly, because of how common they are. Unfortunately, when these symptoms develop because of a hemorrhage, ignoring them results in delays to treatment that can prove costly, no matter how insignificant that delay may seem. Once the brain hemorrhage has been correctly identified, the doctor or surgeon will administer medical or surgical treatment. If the surgery is successful and the condition stabilizes, it may be necessary for the patient to undergo different types of therapy to aid healing and recovery. Brain hemorrhage recovery time can take anywhere between a few weeks or months to even years in some cases. Frequent follow-up visits and medical check-ups become a part of life for the recovering brain hemorrhage patient.

The consequences of a brain hemorrhage can be temporary or permanent. Patients could suffer from loss of movement or coordination, physical weakness caused by physical disability, low muscle tone, loss of speech, personality changes, depression, mood swings, aggressiveness, apathy, loss of memory, inability to work and social isolation.

Diet for Brain Hemorrhage

Changing your diet and eating habits is important to aid the recovery process after a brain hemorrhage as well as to prevent it from occurring.

People who suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity are more likely to suffer from brain hemorrhages and strokes. In order to keep these conditions under control, it is necessary to make some basic changes to your diet such as:

  • Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid foods high in fat and cholesterol
  • Eat foods high in fiber as this can help lower blood pressure
  • Cut down your salt intake as sodium can directly increase blood pressure levels and put undue stress on the blood vessels
  • Stay away from canned, pre-packaged, and processed foods. These contain high levels of salt, sugars, and trans-fats that are extremely unhealthy
  • Snacks such as chips, peanuts, pretzels, instant noodles, and sauces like soya and barbeque are all high in sodium and other additives and should be eliminated from your daily diet
  • If you do cook your own meals, add flavor to your food by adding spices and herbs instead of salt. Lemon juice, garlic, ginger, paprika are all excellent flavor enhancers
  • Keep a check on nutrition labels of the foods you buy. Check for ingredients such as sodium nitrate, sodium benzoate, and sodium sulfate as these translate to high sodium content as well
  • Avoid alcohol

Suggestions for Brain Hemorrhage

You can minimize your risk of a brain hemorrhage by:

  • Controlling high blood pressure through a change in diet, regular exercise, and medication
  • Control your diabetes
  • Control obesity
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol
  • Don’t use drugs (cocaine and amphetamines can increase bleeding in the brain)
  • Always drive with a seatbelt to avoid injuries to the head
  • Wear a helmet if you ride a cycle or a motorbike
  • If you are on anti-coagulant medication, keep a check on your blood levels regularly to ensure that they are in the normal range
  • Regular medical check-ups will indicate any underlying condition such as an aneurysm that could lead to brain hemorrhage. Prompt treatment of such conditions through surgery or medication can prevent future complications.


  1. John R. Absher, Cerebrovascular Disease, In: Editor-in-Chief: V. S. Ramachandran, Editor(s)-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of the Human Brain, Academic Press, New York, 2002, Pages 733-757, ISBN 9780122272103, 10.1016/B0-12-227210-2/00095-9.

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