Brain infections are rare, but when they happen recognizing the signs and getting treatment is vital to a full recovery. "Brain infections are generally treated both symptomatically (to reduce fever, and inflammation) and pathologically (to reduce the spread and effects of the causative microbe.)," Dr. James Giordano, professor of neurology biochemistry, Georgetown University Medical Center tells us. "Bacterial infections are treated with (intravenous) antibiotics; while viral infections can be treated with (intravenous) antivirals)."
Brain infections can be caused by several things, including COVID. Dr. Giordano explains, "Brain infections are caused by the penetration of some infectious agent (bacteria or virus) into the brain spaces (ventricles) and or tissues. There are a number of brain specific bacteria and viruses that target the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain)."
In addition Dr. Giordano states, "There is evidence that SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid, can directly infect brain tissue. As well it appears that bodily infections with the SARS-CoV2 virus can lead to compromised immune function, and alterations in brain physiology to both render the brain more susceptible to other types of infection, as well as producing inflammatory changes in brain tissue that can be symptomatic (and reflective of "long Covid")." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Early Diagnosis is Key
Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies explains, "Your brain is one of the most important organs in your body, so it's important to keep it healthy. Infections of the brain are rare, but they can occur. Infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi. And they can range from mild to deadly. If you think you might have a brain infection, it's important to see a doctor right away. Symptoms of a brain infection include fever, headache, confusion, seizures, and a stiff neck. If you have any of these symptoms, don't wait to see a doctor. Brain infections can be treated, but the sooner you start treatment, the better your chances of recovery will be.
The brain can be infected by a number of different pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Viruses are the most common cause of brain infections and can lead to a variety of diseases, including meningitis, encephalitis, and cerebral palsy. Bacterial infections are less common but can be more serious, often causing meningitis or abscesses.
Fungal infections are relatively rare but can occur in people with weakened immune systems. Parasitic infections are also relatively rare but can be very dangerous, often causing seizures or coma. In some cases, brain infections can lead to death. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential for preventing serious complications from brain infections. Unfortunately, there are a number of ways that your brain can become infected, and the consequences can be serious. Here are some surefire (possible) signs that your brain is infected."
You're Experiencing Dementia or Other Cognitive Problems
Dr. Mitchell explains, "Dementia is a broad term used to describe a decline in cognitive abilities. This can include problems with memory, language, attention, and executive functioning. While dementia is often considered a normal part of aging, it can also be caused by underlying medical conditions. Dementia is a serious cognitive impairment that significantly interferes with a person's ability to function independently. Symptoms of dementia can include memory loss, difficulty understanding or communicating, and changes in mood or behavior. While there is no one cause of dementia, it is believed that infections can play a role in its development.
For example, studies have shown that people with Alzheimer's disease – the most common type of dementia – are more likely to have had previous infections, particularly of the respiratory system. In addition, research has suggested that certain viruses – such as herpes simplex virus type 1 – may contribute to the formation of amyloid plaques, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. While more research is needed to confirm the role of infections in dementia, it is clear that they can have a significant impact on cognitive function."
You Have a Headache That Won't Go Away
Dr. Mitchell says, "The brain is the control center for the entire body, so it's no surprise that when it becomes infected, it can have a profound effect on mood and behavior. For example, meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, can cause delirium, a condition characterized by confusion and disorientation. 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.
If you have a headache that won't go away, it could be a sign that your brain is infected. While this may sound alarming, brain infections are usually treatable with antibiotics. However, it's important to see a doctor as soon as possible to get a proper diagnosis. Brain infections can have a number of different causes, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. In most cases, the infection will develop after the patient has had a head injury or undergone surgery. Symptoms of a brain infection can vary depending on the cause but may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and seizures. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately."
You're Having Trouble Speaking or Understanding Speech
According to Dr. Mitchell, "It's normal to have trouble understanding speech or speaking sometimes. Everyone has had the experience of being in a noisy room and not being able to hear what someone is saying. And everyone has had the experience of forgetting a word or name. But if you're having trouble understanding speech or speaking more often, it could be a sign that your brain is infected.
Dr. Giordano says, "Brain infections characteristically produce short term disruption in brain functions (inclusive of cognitive and motor capabilities as well as emotional and behavioral functions). However, unresolved infections can lead to more widespread inflammatory changes in the brain, which can lead to alterations of intracranial pressure, and if a coma occurs, can lead to more long-term disruptions in thought, motor functions, and the occurrence of psychological signs and symptoms."
You're Having Seizures
Dr. Mitchell says, "Seizures are neurological conditions that can have a variety of causes. In some cases, they may be the result of an infection in the brain. This is usually due to a viral or bacterial infection that has spread to the nervous system. Seizures caused by an infection often occur suddenly and without warning. They may be accompanied by other neurological symptoms, such as altered consciousness, confusion, and memory loss. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately so that the cause can be diagnosed and treated appropriately."
Dr. Giordano adds, "Brain infections are characterized by a steadily increasing fever, head and neck pain, lethargy, and decreased cognitive function. As well, infections that create a robust inflammatory response in the brain can produce seizure and loss of consciousness, possibly progressing to coma."
You're Experiencing Changes in Mood or Behavior
Dr. Mitchell explains, "Any change in mood or behavior could be a sign that something is wrong, but it is especially important to be aware of these changes if there is a possibility that your brain could be infected. Infections of the brain can be very serious, and even life-threatening, so it is important to pay attention to any changes in your mood or behavior and to get medical help if you are concerned. Some common signs that your brain may be infected include changes in energy levels, sleep patterns, appetite, and mood; feeling confused or disoriented, and experiencing tremors or seizures.
The most common symptom of brain infection is a fever, which can cause confusion and irritability. Other symptoms include headache, fatigue, nausea, and seizures. In severe cases, a brain infection can lead to coma or death. A brain infection can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. The most common type of brain infection is meningitis, which is usually caused by bacteria. Meningitis is a serious illness that can kill even healthy people within days. Other types of brain infections include encephalitis, brain abscesses, and cerebral toxoplasmosis. Each type of infection has its own set of symptoms and treatment options. A person with a brain infection will usually need to be hospitalized and treated with antibiotics or other medication. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary to remove the infection. With prompt treatment, most people with a brain infection recover fully. However, some infections can cause permanent damage or even death."