What is Brain Aneurysm?
Brain aneurysm is a balloon like bulge present in a blood vessel of the brain which can potentially burst and become a life threatening condition. Any aneurysm over 2.5 cm or one inch in size is termed as a giant aneurysm. Around 5% people face the chance of developing a brain aneurysm.
Symptoms of Brain Aneurysm: What It Feels Like To Have A Brain Aneurysm?
People suffering from a brain aneurysm initially experience a strange, chronic and nagging headache along with stiff neck, sensitivity towards light and tingling sensation in their face. They generally dismiss the problem thinking of it as a migraine attack. They do not take the issue seriously until it aggravates and causes vomiting, blurry vision and occasional unconsciousness. Generally it is only at this stage that most patients seek medical help.
One may indeed have brain aneurysm and not know of it since un-ruptured aneurysm hardly causes any symptoms. However, when symptoms like headache in a single spot, double vision, pain behind or above the eyes, fatigue, dilated pupils, slurry speech or weakness and numbness occur, one should immediately consult a doctor. These may be signals of an aneurysm pressing on the nerves or brain.
What Happens When The Brain Aneurysm Ruptures?
When a brain aneurysm ruptures, the blood flows out for a few seconds and a small platelet plug forms on it immediately. The leaked blood raises the pressure inside the cranium and also diverts the blood from tissues and brain regions that need a steady supply of blood. The blood that gets spilled in the area around the brain causes excruciating headaches in the patients. Most patients describe this headache as a feeling of getting hit by a sledgehammer in the back of a head. Other symptoms that occur are double vision, seizure, vomiting, nausea, droopy eyelids and dizziness. One can also get a stroke. Some patients may suffer very small blood leaks in the brain for days and even weeks leading to a severe rupture. This can lead to unconsciousness and even death in 30 to 50% of patients.
When is a Surgery Needed for Brain Aneurysm?
Brain aneurysm can be easily diagnosed through a brain scan or MRI scan. When patients get diagnosed with brain aneurysm, they need to seek immediate help and advice of an experienced neurosurgeon. If they wish to undergo an early surgery and get this dangerous bulge removed as soon as possible then it is okay. However, it should be remembered that an aneurysm need not be operated instantly. In case of an un-ruptured brain aneurysm, the doctor may advice medical treatment or critical monitoring before proceeding to surgery.
How is a Ruptured Aneurysm Treated?
Once the aneurysm ruptures, it should be treated with either an endovascular surgery or open surgery, which is performed within the blood vessels. In certain cases, the surgeon can also choose to thread a catheter through the femoral artery to the brain and then set coils to seal off the aneurysm. If there are veins going through this bulge, then the surgeon would need to perform more than 1 bypass to clip off the aneurysm completely.
What Are The Chances Of Developing Another Brain Aneurysm?
Once an individual has had a brain aneurysm, there is only 10 to 15% chance of them having another one. Elderly patients are less likely to develop a second aneurysm compared to ones below the age of 50. Brain aneurysm is more likely to rupture in patients who smoke.
Recovery Time after Brain Aneurysm Surgery
The recovery process after brain aneurysm surgery can be a long and arduous one. Patients have to go through the frustrating regime of learning how to walk and speak all over again after surgery for brain aneurysm. It takes almost a year for these individuals to recover completely and get back to their normal self. These patients must maintain nutritious eating habits and a healthy lifestyle all through their lives. Consuming a healthy diet, working out at least thrice a week at a gym and regularly engaging in brain stimulating activities is essential for their well-being. Playing mind-exercising games like Sudoku, crossword, scrabble, etc. is highly recommended for these people. They should also visit a therapist and doctor regularly to keep a check on their health.