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Are Migraines A Sign Of Brain Tumor

Symptoms Of A Brain Tumor Headache

Brain Tumor Symptoms – Headaches: ABTA’s #TipTuesday

In its early stages, a brain tumor may have no noticeable symptoms. Its only when it grows large enough to put pressure on the brain or nerves in the brain that it can start to cause headaches.

The nature of a brain tumor headache is different from a tension or migraine headache in some noticeable ways.

For example, waking up frequently with a headache can be a sign of a brain tumor. Keep in mind, however, that other conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea or a hangover, can also cause morning headaches.

But if you start getting frequent headaches, different kinds of headaches, or if the headaches change in severity, take note. These may indicate a brain tumor is present.

Likewise, if youre not a person who usually gets headaches, but you begin experiencing frequent, painful headaches, see a doctor soon.

Other headache symptoms associated with brain tumors may include:

  • headaches that wake you up at night
  • headache pain that changes as you change positions
  • headache pain that doesnt respond to standard pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen , or ibuprofen
  • headaches that last for days or weeks at a time

Because the pain can be quite intense, brain tumor headaches are sometimes confused with migraines. However, a migraine attack can also trigger nausea and extreme sensitivity to light. Brain tumor headaches are usually accompanied by other signs.

Which Tests Will Your Doctor Order

When you see your doctor about your headaches, they will ask questions about your symptoms, medical history, and any patterns or triggers related to the headache that you may have noticed. They will also perform a basic neurological exam, asking you questions to evaluate your cognitive state and seeing whether you have any trouble with balance, walking, or movement. They will likely also order some tests to figure out if you have a brain tumor, migraine, or other medical issue. Those would mainly be imaging tests such as:

  • MRI
  • CT scan

Your doctor may also order blood tests to look for signs of infection or other conditions such as thyroid disorders that can cause headaches.

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What Are The Symptoms Of A Brain Tumor

You might be surprised to learn that many brain tumors donĂ¢t cause a headache or similar pain at all. That is, not until they have grown. You likely would have noticed other symptoms by then. Symptoms of a brain tumor will often vary depending on where it is, but some of the most common include:

  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Difficulty walking or balance issues
  • Vision problems
  • Personality change

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What Makes A Headache Worse Or Better

Your notes will help you here. If a headache gets triggered or worsens when you cough, sneeze or bend over, be sure of letting the doctor know about these situations. These movements, when triggering a headache are majorly brain-tumor related and require special imaging tests like MRI or CT. These tests further identify if a brain tumor is the cause of these headaches.

P: Prior Headache History

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When Dr. Carver meets with someone for an appointment, he asks if headaches have been an issue for that person in the past. That can help him determine if the headache is something out of the ordinary or if it is consistent with the persons medical history.

People with a prior history of headaches who are unlucky enough later in life to develop a brain tumor are more likely to complain of a headache than people without a history, Dr. Carver says. It is therefore especially important to examine people comprehensively to be certain that symptoms or signs arent missed.

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Headache: Could It Be A Brain Tumor

A bad headache can be scary. Its hard not to think the worst if youre unlucky enough to suffer with severe headaches. If the pain lasts or recurs, you may wonder if you have a serious problem such as a brain tumor.

Heres the reassuring truth: Headache, by itself, is rarely caused by a tumor.

According to a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Brain Tumor Center, the chance that your headache is a sign of a brain tumor is very remote.

Headaches are a common occurrence among the general population, but the vast majority of them have nothing to do with cancer.

However, experts recommend that if you experience a new headache, or the pattern changes or becomes more frequent, that is a good reason to visit your primary care doctor to rule out any serious problems.

How Are Brain Tumors Diagnosed

Quite often it is not a headache that leads to the diagnosis of a brain tumor. Depending on the location of the tumor, it may take months or even years for the lesion to increase in size sufficiently to produce symptoms. Some tumors are discovered accidentally, such as during routine screening for migraines or following a minor head trauma, though this is very uncommon.

Frequently patients with brain tumors seek evaluation by a physician because of other symptoms. For example, they may suddenly or gradually develop visual disturbances, weakness on one side of their body, slurred speech, hearing loss, ringing in the ears, imbalance, dizziness, memory and/or cognitive problems, seizures, or even incontinence. An abnormal neurological examination is the most worrisome predictor of structural brain lesion.

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The Odds: Migraine Vs Brain Tumor

Migraines are common. They are more common than asthma and epilepsy combined. They simply dont get the same advocacy or support. Around 15% of the population or 37 million people in the US experience migraine. Globally around 1 in 7 people will experience migraine at some point.

Brain tumors, on the other hand, are rare. Just 0.2% of the population are living with a brain tumor diagnosis. There are around 70,000 new cases of any type of brain tumor being diagnosed each year in US. Thats a 0.02% of the population. In other words, statically speaking, there is a 99.8% chance that you are tumor free.

My philosophy is that its better to be safe than sorry. If in doubt or if youre worried then see your doctor.

Brain tumors can be benign or malignant. In both cases waiting longer only lets things get worse. Make an appointment and get a professional diagnosis from a medical doctor.

When To See A Healthcare Provider

Difference between Migraine Headache and Brain Tumors Headaches? | Brain Tumor Treatment

Once again, it’s important to remember that symptoms of brain tumors overlap with those of many much less serious problems, and, most of the time, do not indicate a brain tumor. That said, finding a brain tumor early reduces the chance that it will cause further damage and that it can be treated successfully.

Brain Tumor Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.

That said, any severe or sudden symptoms warrant a call to 911 or a trip to the emergency room. They may not be due to a tumor but could be signs of other serious conditions, such as a stroke, an aneurysm, brain metastases from cancer, or a bleed into the brain.

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What Is A Brain Tumor

A brain tumor is an abnormal growth that affects the brain. It can also be described as a mass that develops within the brain. Any part of the brain can be affected by a tumor. However, even if a tumor is small in size, it can still pose a significant threat to a patients well-being and life.

The term brain tumor actually refers to a wide range of growths that can develop. Medical researchers and experts have identified various types of tumors that may affect the brain. While there are many varieties, a few main categories are used to help establish the severity of the growth.

A tumor affecting the brain can fall within one of these two main categories:

  • Benign tumor: These tumors are growths that do not contain cancerous cells. They can still become larger in size, but they are not cancerous. There is also no risk of malignant activity from a benign tumor, which means it will not spread to other areas in the body.
  • Malignant tumor: A malignant tumor is one that has formed due to the presence of cancerous cells. When a patient has a malignant tumor, they will be diagnosed with brain cancer in the process.

When a cancerous tumor is identified in a patients brain, two main subcategories are used to describe the growth. This helps the patient and doctor understand the severity of the situation. Its also an important step during the diagnosis process, as treatment provided will generally depend on the type of malignant tumor that has developed.

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What Are The Common Causes Of A Brain Tumor

The causes of brain tumors are not yet clearly known however, there are common risk factors or triggers that may cause a brain tumor, such as:

  • Being overweight or obese increases the risk of certain types of brain tumors.
  • An unhealthy lifestyle including smoking and excessive alcohol consumption may trigger abnormal cell growth.
  • The risk of getting brain tumors becomes higher with increasing age.
  • Repeated exposure to radiation through ionizing radiation, X-rays, and computed tomography scans, power lines, nuclear plants, mobile phones, and cell phone towers may trigger tumors.
  • Exposure to certain harmful chemicals may trigger a brain tumor. Examples include diesel exhaust, coal tar volatiles, tobacco smoke, arsenic compounds, cadmium compounds, nickel compounds, and more.
  • People who have had cancer such as leukemia as a child have a higher risk of brain tumors as an adult. Adults who have had cancer also may have a chance of getting brain tumors, but further research is needed to confirm this finding.
  • In some rare cases, brain tumors may be genetically inherited. If a lot of people in a family have had brain tumors, an individual may be at an increased risk of the condition.

About The Signs And Symptoms Of A Brain Tumour

Morning Headaches Brain Tumor

Symptoms depend on where the tumour is in the brain and how slowly or quickly it grows. They may develop suddenly, or slowly over months or even years.

As a tumour grows, it can press on or grow into nearby areas of the brain. This can cause symptoms because it stops that part of the brain from working normally. Symptoms can also happen because the tumour is increasing the pressure inside the skull.

These symptoms can be caused by conditions other than a brain tumour. But it is important to get them checked by your GP straight away.

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Signs Of Brain Metastases

Heres surprising fact: The most common brain tumors dontactually start in the brain. Brain metastases, or metastatic braintumors, spread to the brain from otherparts of the body most often from the lungs, breasts, skin, kidneysor colon.

A person with a known history of these cancers who developsany of these neurological symptoms should be evaluated, Dr. Ahluwalia says.

What Steps Does The Physician Take When A Brain Tumor Is Diagnosed

It is the role of the physician to determine which patients require further testing for potential serious illness. Usually an MRI scan of the head with contrast enhancement is the most sensitive and preferable. In some cases additional studies should be ordered, such as a CT scan, or imaging of other parts of the body to determine if a primary tumor may be present. Some patients may require a lumbar puncture to evaluate the spinal fluid, which can provide a clue to the cause of headaches.

If a tumor is present, the patient will be evaluated by both a neurosurgeon and often an oncologist. The neurologist is frequently involved in management of the patient with brain cancer in terms of monitoring the neurological status and treating complications, such as brain edema, epilepsy, strokes, pain, etc.

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Unexplained Nausea Or Vomiting

A stomach upset, a common symptom of a brain tumor, can often be dismissed for something like food poisoning or other generic feelings of nausea. But in fact, it can indicate a brain tumor in the part of our brain that controls our digestion. It could also mean a number of other things, so dont ignore this issue.

Overview Of Brain Tumor Headaches

Common Symptoms of Brain Tumour | Dr Anurag Saxena

The majority of headaches are not worrisome, and while headaches can be especially burdensome , they usually go away eventually with time and/or medication.

The headache of a brain tumor, however, does not go away. It’s constant even when you are sleeping. It can also be accompanied by other alarming signs, like seizures and/or fainting. That being said, headache is sometimes the only symptom of a brain tumor.

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Which Migraine Symptoms Might Make You Suspect A Brain Tumor

Migraine symptoms can vary widely person to person. A few days before, a prodrome happens and can cause mood changes, food cravings, and fluid retention. Many people who have migraines get what is known as an aura about an hour before it hits. You might experience vision changes, tingling, or have a hard time speaking. The migraine itself has symptoms including:

  • Throbbing pain that is often only on one side of the head
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

Things To Do Before Meeting A Doctor

The doctor may ask several questions related to a headache and the symptoms followed by it. We advise you to note down all the symptoms as they can be easily forgotten over a period of time. Also, make a note of things that trigger a headache and make it worse. When explaining to the doctor your condition, be as accurate as possible.

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When To See A Doctor

If youve been diagnosed with cancer elsewhere in your body and you start to experience strong headaches, tell your doctor. The cancer may have spread to your brain. Be ready to describe all your symptoms in detail. The nature of your headaches will help your physician make a better treatment plan.

If you have no cancer history, see your doctor or a neurologist if a headache lasts for several days or weeks with little or no relief.

A headache that continues to worsen with no response to traditional pain treatment should also be evaluated. Weight loss, muscle numbness, and sensory changes that accompany a headache should be checked promptly, too.

Frequent Headaches Is It An Indication For Brain Tumor

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When headaches become frequent and worse over time, it is only natural to think of it as something serious, such as a brain tumor. It is true that a recurring headache can be an indication of a brain tumor however, it is important to know that tumor-related headaches have distinct characteristics. In addition, one must also know brain tumors have become increasingly common and should be of concern when the severity of headaches changes with time and they become too frequent.

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Grades And Types Of Brain Tumour

Brain tumours are graded according to how fast they grow and how likely they are to grow back after treatment.

Grade 1 and 2 tumours are low grade, and grade 3 and 4 tumours are high grade.

There are 2 main types of brain tumours:

  • non-cancerous brain tumours these are low grade , which means they grow slowly and are less likely to return after treatment
  • cancerous brain tumours these are high grade and either start in the brain or spread into the brain from elsewhere they’re more likely to grow back after treatment

The Cancer Research UK website has more information about specific types of brain tumours.

Are The Tumors That Cause Headaches Typically Malignant Or Benign

The pattern of headaches a patient experiences doesn’t give doctors much information about the tumor it is associated with: Some patients with malignant tumors have no headaches at all, while smaller benign tumors can cause debilitating headaches, and vice versa. An evaluation by your doctor, in conjunction with imaging studies like a CT scan or MRI when necessary, will provide much more information.

Brain Tumor Signs & Symptoms

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Are These Headaches Recent Or Do You Usually Get Them

If you do not get headaches normally and this is a rather new condition, the doctor may suspect something serious. On the other hand, if you previously also had headaches, but the severity and location have changed and are followed by other symptoms as well, it may also be of concern.

Overall, any change in the pattern or sudden new development of a severe headache can be because of a brain tumor. Also read the about the different types of headache and their treatments.


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