When you injure various parts of your body, the body responds by causing that area to swell. As PainReliever.com describes, swelling, or edema, is an inflammatory response that occurs when capillaries are damaged, leaking fluid into the surrounding tissues. The increased blood in the tissues causes redness, swelling, and heat. Pressure builds up from the inflammation and the accumulation of immune cells. The pressure, along with chemicals released from cells in the injured tissues, irritates nerve endings in the area and causes pain.

To reduce swelling, your Kentucky doctor will recommend treatment such as rest, elevation, ice, anti-inflammatories, or removal of excess fluid. When the brain swells, however, treatment is trickier because the brain is surrounded by the unyielding skull.

What Causes the Brain to Swell?

The brain swells in response to a variety of conditions, including the following:

  • brain (intracerebral) hemorrhages and strokes;
  • chemical imbalances;
  • diabetic ketoacidosis (caused by diabetes);
  • exposure to some toxins;
  • high altitude sickness;
  • hydrocephalus;
  • ischemic strokes;
  • infections, including meningitis, encephalitis, toxoplasmosis, and subdural emphysema;
  • opioid use;
  • severe high blood pressure;
  • traumatic brain injury (TBI); and
  • tumors.

What Are the Dangers of Brain Swelling?

The consequences of brain swelling often are more damaging than the injury that caused the brain to swell. If immediate, appropriate treatment is not administered—and sometimes even when it is—the following may result:

  • changes in personality;
  • cognitive impairment;
  • coma;
  • developmental delay;
  • learning disabilities;
  • loss of or changes in sensation;
  • muscle weakness;
  • paralysis;
  • physical disabilities; and
  • unconsciousness.

How Is Brain Swelling Treated?

Mild cases of brain swelling from altitude sickness or a mild concussion usually go away within a few days. More severe cases call for swift action, with the primary goal of ensuring sufficient blood and oxygen to the brain. The sooner treatment begins, the quicker and more complete recovery will be.

Severe cases of brain swelling require some combination of the following treatments:

  • intravenous fluids to keep the blood pressure from dropping too low, thereby ensuring that the brain receives enough blood;
  • lowered body temperature (hypothermia) to relieve the swelling and give the brain a chance to heal;
  • medication to relieve the swelling, slow the body’s response to the swelling, or dissolve blood clots;
  • oxygen therapy to ensure that the blood contains enough oxygen;
  • surgery to remove part of the skull to relieve the pressure, or to remove or repair the cause of the swelling; and
  • ventriculostomy, a procedure in which a small hole is cut into the skull and a plastic tube inserted through which cerebrospinal fluid may drain, thereby relieving pressure.

If a brain injury in Kentucky has ruined your life or the life of someone you love, you should contact an experienced Kentucky brain injury lawyer. Call Gray and White Law at 502-210-8942 or toll free at 888-450-4456 to set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation.

Mark K. Gray
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Louisville attorney serving the seriously injured in Kentucky