When headaches start to worsen or persist, it is obvious to speculate whether it could be something serious other than the headache alone. Headaches can be an indicator of something severe like a brain tumor. However, headaches related to tumors have certain characteristics that are different from other causes of headaches. Your doctor could be of great help to establish whether the headaches you usually experience are brain tumor headaches.
Why Would Brain Tumor Cause Headaches?
Brain tumor headaches occur because of increased intracranial pressure (IICP). People with brain tumor experience an increased pressure on their brains normally as a result of brain swelling, a mass or excess fluid. The skull has enough space to house the brain alone and a given fluid capacity. Pressure in the brain will certainly be increased by an extra addition, be it a tissue or a fluid.
What Do Brain Tumor Headaches Feel Like?
One of the common symptoms encountered by people suffering from brain tumors are headaches. There are a variety of causes and kinds of headaches. If you are having a headache, it is important to consult your doctor. Your doctor is the most suitable person to listen to your health concerns, analyze your headache and general medical history. After that, he can go ahead to establish the next thing to do in your care. Some headache conditions can be managed well with medication.
Here is a list of some of the common features in patients experiencing brain tumor headaches:
Continuous pain that worsens after waking up in the morning, lasting for some hours.
Non-migraine stubborn headache.
May lead to vomiting.
Depending on tumor location, it may be hurting or not.
May get worse with exercise, coughing or a change in the position of the body.
It does not normally respond to normal remedies of headache.
May be linked to neurological issues.
How to Manage the Pain
Pain relievers, including acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can be used as a way of managing the brain tumor headaches. If you are handling an early-stage brain tumor with less acute pain, OTC pain relievers can be of good help. Common pain relievers for headaches can be effectively used to manage this pain.
Prescription medication will be needed for severe cases. Your doctor could advocate a narcotic drug for addressing a mild-to-acute brain tumor headache. There are a number of options that a doctor can recommend to deal with pain resulting from a brain tumor like morphine, codeine and oxycodone. Regrettably, there may be side effects associated with these drugs and in some cases one may become addictive. However, a severe pain condition can well be addressed by these drugs whose benefits may overshadow the risks associated with them.
Pain Management Program
The brain tumor headaches can be managed through a program taking a combination strategy to assist patients to control the effects of the pain and help live with it. These programs used to manage the pain include physical therapy techniques along with treatment plans of prescription drugs.
Relaxation therapy and meditation are useful techniques that a person with brain tumor headaches can apply. The effectiveness of these techniques is influenced by the harshness of the distress experienced. In some situations, these techniques may be unfruitful. For severe pain, you may find them useful and effective when applied together with conventional treatments and medication.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Brain Tumor
Diagnosis of Brain Tumor
In order to diagnose a brain tumor, your doctor will always start off by gathering information concerning your signs and symptoms, taking both an individual and family health background. What follows is that the doctor will carry out a physical exam, which includes a neurological exam. In the event that there is a sign of a brain tumor, the doctor could request such tests as:
Imaging studies like MRI or CT (CAT) scan to see clear brain images.
MRA or Angiogram, which includes the use of X-rays and dye of vessels carrying blood in your brain to establish the signs of an abnormal blood vessel or a tumor.
The doctor could also request for a biopsy to be done to see whether the tumor could be a cancer. A tissue sample is taken from the brain which will be sent for testing in the laboratory.
Treatment for Brain Tumor
Upon diagnosis, the first option of removing a brain tumor is always conducting a surgery. All the same, the location of the tumor in the brain may prevent such procedures to be carried out. Therefore, radiation therapy and chemotherapy can be useful options to shrink and kill the tumor. Radiation or chemotherapy can also be used following a surgery to make sure that any cancer cell remaining are completely killed.
A tumor that is very deep inside the brain or in sections that may not be reached easily can be removed through Gamma Knife therapy, a kind of highly focused radiation therapy.
Since cancer treatment can damage a healthy tissue, it is important to analyze possible side-effects and other long-term effects of the kind of treatment being proposed by your doctor. The doctor can highlight the possible risks and the chance of losing some faculties. The doctor can as well point out the significance of making arrangements for rehabilitation after the treatment. Rehabilitation may work with various therapists like:
A speech therapist to deal with problems of expressing thoughts, speaking or swallowing
An occupation therapist to assist in managing day to day activities like bathing, dressing and using the bathroom.
A physical therapist to help regain balance and strength.