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Here are common symptoms of brain conditions.

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When your head throbs, it’s only human nature to wonder if your symptoms could be caused by a brain tumor or another serious brain issue. Although head pain is often just a headache, how do you know when it’s something more?

You may notice several concerning symptoms if you have one of these brain conditions.

Brain Tumor

A bad headache is an unmistakable sign that a character in a TV show has a brain tumor. In real life, only 50% of people who have brain tumors develop headaches, according to the American Brain Tumor Association. In addition to headaches, other brain tumor symptoms may include:

    • Dizziness
    • Nausea and/or vomiting
    • Blurred or double vision
    • Loss of side vision
    • Balance or coordination problems
    • Twitching muscles or muscle spasms
    • Numbness or weakness in an arm or leg or one side of the body
    • Confusion
    • Memory problems
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Behavior or personality changes
    • Seizures
    • Hearing loss
    • Trouble with speech of difficulty understanding words
    • Loss of bowel or bladder control

Brain Aneurysm

A brain aneurysm occurs when a weak spot in an artery in the brain fills with blood. The bulging aneurysm presses on tissues and nerves in the brain and could burst if you don’t receive emergency brain surgery.

If you have an aneurysm that hasn’t ruptured, you might experience:

    • Pain behind and above one eye
    • Double vision
    • Other vision changes
    • Numbness on one side of your face
    • Dilated pupil in one eye

Ruptured aneurysm symptoms can include:

    • Severe headache
    • Nausea and/or vomiting
    • Blurred or double vision
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Drooping eyelid
    • Seizures
    • Neck stiffness
    • Loss of consciousness

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A fall or blow to the head could cause brain injuries ranging from a mild concussion to a serious brain injury that requires surgery. Common brain injury symptoms include:

    • Headache
    • Nausea and/or vomiting
    • Dilated pupils
    • Coordination or balance problems
    • Seizures
    • Convulsions
    • Fluid that flows from the ears or nose
    • Numbness or weakness
    • Behavior changes
    • Confusion
    • Loss of consciousness

If you notice any of these symptoms after hitting your head, call 911 immediately.


Hydrocephalus is a condition that occurs when cerebrospinal fluid begins to build up in your brain. The clear fluid cushions and nourishes the brain and removes waste products. When there’s too much fluid, pressure on your brain begins to build, causing these symptoms:

    • Headaches
    • Nausea and/or vomiting
    • Vision problems
    • Balance and coordination problems
    • Fainting
    • Vertigo
    • Memory problems
    • Poor bladder control
    • Fatigue

Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases occur when cells inside the nerves die or are damaged. Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Friedrich’s ataxia, motor neuron disease and prion disease are all examples of neurodegenerative diseases.

Symptoms vary depending on the disease. For example, if you have Parkinson’s disease, you may notice:

    • Slower than normal movements
    • Trembling in your head, arms, hands or legs
    • Stiff arms, legs and torso
    • Trouble with balance and coordination

Friedrich’s ataxia also affects movements and causes trouble walking. Other symptoms of this neurodegenerative disease include:

    • Hearing or vision loss
    • Loss of sensation in your arms or legs
    • Shortness of breath
    • Trouble swallowing
    • Loss of reflexes
    • Chest pain
    • Heart palpitations

What to Do If You Have Symptoms

Most health conditions affecting your brain can be very serious. But in many cases, medications, brain surgery and other treatments may improve your condition and reduce or eliminate your symptoms. The important thing to remember is that if you have symptoms that seem to be more concerning than a typical headache, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor. If the symptoms appear life-threatening, have someone call 911 or take you to the nearest emergency room.

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Date Last Reviewed: June 15, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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