What Is Cerebral Edema? Its Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Options

Cerebral edema is an excessive buildup of fluid within the intra cellular or extra cellular spaces of the brain. It is typified by the occurrence of a large quantity of fluid in the brain; and if neglected, it can be life threatening, and can trigger severe brain impairment; and the faster you are treated, the better is the chance of recovery.

When one is diagnosed with cerebral edema, the brain swells, and this has a host of consequences. Swelling and inflammation of the brain tissue compromises the flow of blood to the brain. Reduced blood flow to the brain results in serious brain damage and even death. Increased pressure due to raised level of fluid within the brain makes the brain move around within the skull, and this can have grave repercussions.

Cerebral Edema Causes

  1. Disruption of cerebral capillary results in vasogenic cerebral edema. Fluid accumulation is maximum in the white matter and the astrocytes within the brain become swollen. This type of cerebral edema occurs due to head injury / trauma, local inflammation, tumor masses and late phases of cerebral ischemia.
  2. Cytogenic edema occurs due to a disruption in cellular metabolism which consequently causes poor working of the potassium and sodium pump in the glial cell membrane.
    Accordingly, cellular retention of sodium and water occurs. Astrocytes in white and grey matter get swollen. Common causes include – various intoxications (triethyltin, dinitrophenol, hexachlorophene, isoniazid), hypothermia, and early stage of ischemia.
  3. ECF and CSF osmolality within the brain is to some extent more than that of the plasma. When the plasma gets diluted due to water intoxication or hemodialysis, cerebral edema develops. This is seen in acute, malignant hypertension.
  4. Another important cause is high altitude, which is known to frequently trigger edema.

Symptoms Of Cerebral Edema

Commonly seen manifestations of cerebral edema are:

  • Altered state of consciousness
  • Giddiness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor coordination
  • Numbness

Treatment For Cerebral Edema

Any neglect in the treatment of cerebral edema can have very grave consequences. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is very vital for complete and quick recovery. The treatment regimen comprises of getting rid of the fluid in the brain and skull, relieving the pressure within the skull, and managing the exact cause / trigger of the problem to see if it can be prevented from occurring again.

Your health care provider will prescribe corticosteroids to allay inflammation, along with diuretics to get rid of excess water. From time to time, surgery may be required to alleviate the pressure on the brain.

Furthermore, your doctor will need to control arterial pressure as well and give you osmotherapy too.

Natural and home remedies will not help you a great deal; given the serious nature of the condition and neglect and delay can cause excessive damage and impairment. However, you can incorporate these in to your daily diet, along with the medications that have been prescribed by your doctor.

Berberine – found in various medicinal herbs, such as, the goldenseal is being touted as an excellent herb for cerebral edema, based on investigations and trials conducted on rats. Data from animal studies proposes a therapeutic benefit of berberine for cerebral edema. Confer with your doctor whether berberine is appropriate for your condition.

Dashen or Salvia miltiorrhiza is a Chinese herb which augments blood flow and promotes vascular health. Studies show that Dashen decreases cerebral edema; given that, it has anti atherosclerosis properties and is a powerful anti inflammatory agent.

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