7 warning signs of brain tumour to be aware of



Change in the pattern of headaches, constant sensation of vomiting, blurred vision can be the warning sign of a brain tumour that cannot be ignored.

A brain tumour is a cluster of abnormal cells that arises from the nervous tissues of the brain. It is the irregular proliferation of cells creating a tumour.

Brain tumours can either be benign, with no cancer cells or malignant, with cancer cells that grow quickly.

Common types of non-cancerous tumours are pituitary adenoma, meningioma, acoustic neuroma.

The cancerous tumours are gliomas, ependymomas, medulloblastomas, metastasis from cancers of different body parts, etc.

The symptoms mainly depend on the location of the tumour in the brain. The most common warning signs of brain tumours are as follows.

1. Seizures/ convulsions

A brain tumour may cause the neurons to fire uncontrollably leading to abnormal body movements. The seizure may be focal, involving one area of the body or it may be generalized involving the whole body. This usually happens when the tumour involves the parietal lobe of the brain, which controls the motor function of the body.

2. Imbalance/ giddiness

Loss of balance and clumsiness in fine movements are linked with tumours of the cerebellum. The cerebellum commonly known as the small brain which is behind the head and just above the neck area controls the balance of the body. So, a tumour in this location leads to vertigo, giddiness, or imbalance. Sometimes a person tends to sway towards one side while walking and feels like falling.

3. Visual disturbances or hearing loss

Blurred vision, double vision, partial or complete loss of vision can be signs of a brain tumour if it is in the occipital lobe, temporal lobe, brain stem or near the pituitary gland. The tumours may lead to pressure on optic pathways leading to visual disturbances. Pituitary adenoma and optic nerve meningiomas are the most common tumours leading to visual disturbances. Acoustic neuromas are tumours located in the nerve of the ear, which leads to hearing loss or some whistle-like noise in the ear (tinnitus).

4. Memory loss or personality changes

Tumours in the frontal or temporal lobe may lead to forgetfulness, changes in behaviour, confusion, changes in judgement and changes in speech. People tend to become agitated without any reason or may tend to become inactive in some situations. Usually, recent memory loss is a common symptom in such tumours.

5. Nausea/ vomiting

Nausea and vomiting may be a symptom of simple gastric disturbance but if it is persistent in nature and associated with projectile vomiting, it may signal an underlying brain problem. This usually happens because of oedema in the surrounding brain due to tumours.

6. Weakness in arms and legs (paralysis)

Altered perception of touch, pressure, weakness or decreased movements of limbs on one side are signs of a tumour located in the frontal or parietal lobe. Many times, patients just feel that their handwriting has changed, or the signature has changed because of weakness in their hands. Difficulty in swallowing and facial weakness is signs of brain stem tumours.

7. Headache

Headache may be experienced around the tumour area. Unlike the usual headache, it is persistent for more than a few days and is associated commonly with nausea, vomiting or other signs. The swelling near the tumour area leads to pressure on surrounding tissues and it leads to headache. It may be severe and experienced more in the early morning. The headache usually happens in many other conditions also, so only headache may not be the symptom in many brain tumours.