Brain infections are rare, but they can still happen. Brain infections occur when some infectious agent (bacteria, virus, fungi, or parasites) manages to make its way into the tissues of your brain.
If the cause is a virus, it can lead to meningitis, encephalitis, and cerebral palsy. Infections caused by bacteria are less common but can still lead to meningitis or abscesses. Fungal infections are also rare but can occur in people with compromised immune systems. The most dangerous infections are parasitic in nature because they can lead to seizures or coma.
Since brain infections can be lethal, early diagnosis and treatment is essential for preventing any complications. Here are some warning signs that your brain is infected.
1. You suddenly have memory problems
Dementia is a medical term used to describe a serious decline in cognitive function. For example, having problems with memory, language, attention, and executive functioning. While dementia is oftentimes simply due to aging, it can also be caused by an infection.
Many studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease, which is one of the most common forms of dementia, are more likely to have had previous infections.
Additionally, some studies have suggested that certain viruses, like the herpes simplex virus type 1, may contribute to the formation of amyloid plaques. These plaques are believed to be one of the main causes for Alzheimer’s disease.
2. You’ve got a terrible headache that won’t go away
A headache after a night of partying or not drinking enough water is completely normal. Under normal circumstances, headaches shouldn’t occur too often or last for long periods of time.
If you have a headache that won’t go away, it could be a sign that your brain is infected. While this may sound concerning, brain infections are treatable with antibiotics.
However, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible to get a proper diagnosis. Patients who have recently undergone surgery or sustained a head injury are most at risk for brain infections by bacteria.
Symptoms of a brain infection can vary depending on the cause but may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and seizures.
3. You have trouble remembering words and can’t understand others
When you haven’t been sleeping well, you might experience difficulty understanding speech or speaking coherently. You might also just be having trouble hearing what someone is saying because of the surrounding noise. But if you keep forgetting words and have trouble understanding speech, it could be a sign that your brain is infected.
Brain infections often cause short term impairment in cognitive functions (including cognitive and motor capabilities as well as emotional and behavioral functions).
Brain infections that are left untreated can lead to more widespread inflammatory changes in your brain. These changes can lead to alterations of intracranial pressure. In the worst case scenario, you fall into a coma. When this occurs, it can lead to more long-term complications related to thinking, motor functions, and psychological signs and symptoms.
4. You’re having seizures
Seizures have a variety of reasons why they happen. But if they happen suddenly and without warning, it may be because of an infection in the brain. This is usually due to a viral or bacterial infection that has made its way into your nervous system.
Seizures caused by an infection may also be followed by other neurological symptoms, like altered consciousness, confusion, and memory loss. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
5. You’re Experiencing Changes in Mood or Behavior
It’s normal to feel under the weather sometimes, but any change in mood or behavior that is seen long-term could be a sign that something is wrong.
Infections of the brain can be very serious, and even life-threatening, so it’s vital to pay close attention to any changes in your mood or behavior and seek professional help if needed. Some things to look out for include changes in energy levels, sleep patterns, appetite, and mood; feeling confused or disoriented, and experiencing tremors or seizures.
Your brain is the control center for your entire body. So when it gets infected, an inflammatory response of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord can occur. This can cause delirium, a condition where you feel confused and disoriented.
Similarly, encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain itself, can lead to changes in personality and even hallucinations. In short, infections of the brain can have a wide range of psychological effects, depending on the specific infection and the individual’s own physiology.
A brain infection can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Among the different types of brain infections like encephalitis, brain abscesses, and cerebral toxoplasmosis, meningitis is usually caused by bacteria. It’s a deadly illness that can kill even healthy people within days.
The most common symptoms of brain infection include fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, and seizures. In severe cases, a brain infection can lead to coma or death.
It’s important to remember that each type of infection has its own set of symptoms. Treatment usually requires hospitalization and the use of antibiotics or other medication. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary to remove the infection.
With early diagnosis and quick treatment, the majority of individuals with a brain infection can make a full recovery. However, there are still some cases where permanent damage or even death can occur.