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Brain Abscess


Everything you need to know
about a Brain Abscess

A bacterial infection is typically the cause of an abscess in the brain of a healthy person. People with compromised immune systems are more likely to develop fungus-related brain abscesses. Your brain will enlarge due to a buildup of pus-filled swelling and dead cells brought on by the infection.

It typically happens after an illness or serious head injury when germs or fungi get into the brain tissue.

Although there is very little chance of getting a brain abscess in England, it is a serious ailment that needs to be identified and treated right away.

When fungus, viruses, or bacteria enter your brain through a wound in your head or an infection elsewhere in your body, a brain abscess develops. According to the NHS, between 20 and 50 percent of all instances of brain abscess are caused by infections from other regions of the body. Brain abscesses can be caused by a variety of conditions, including heart and lung infections. But ear, sinus, or even teeth abscesses can also be the source of a brain abscess.

If you suspect a brain abscess, immediately see a doctor. To stop the swelling from causing any brain damage, you’ll need the appropriate treatment.

Symptoms of a brain abscess

The majority of the time, symptoms appear gradually over several weeks, although they can occasionally appear quickly. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Variations in mental functions, including heightened perplexity, lowered responsiveness, and irritation.
  • Reduced speech.
  • Diminished feeling.
  • Reduced mobility as a result of lost muscular function.
  • Alterations to vision.
  • Alterations in behaviour or personality.
  • Vomiting
  • Fever.
  • Chills
  • Neck stiffness, especially when it is accompanied by chills and a fever.
  • Sensitivity to light.

Symptoms of a brain abscess in babies & young children

The majority of the symptoms are identical in babies and young children. Your youngster, however, can exhibit additional signs of a brain abscess. The fontanelle, a soft area on top of your baby’s skull, could be enlarged or protruding. Other signs that your child may exhibit include:

  • Projectile vomiting.
  • High-pitched crying.
  • Limbs spasticity.


Many of these symptoms mimic other illnesses or health issues quite closely. If you start to experience any of the symptoms, consult your doctor immediately. A neurological examination is probably necessary. This examination can detect any elevated pressure in the brain that could result from swelling. Brain abscesses can also be identified with CT and MRI imaging.

Your doctor might occasionally need to perform a spinal tap, often known as a lumbar puncture. To screen for any issues other than an infection, a little sample of cerebral spinal fluid must be removed. If severe brain swelling is detected, a lumbar puncture won’t be done because it can make the pressure inside the head momentarily worse. This reduces the possibility of a brain haemorrhage or a brain blood vessel rupture.


Though almost anybody can develop a brain abscess, some groups of people are more susceptible than others. The following illnesses, disorders, and conditions increase your risk:

  • A weakened immune system brought on by HIV or AIDS.
  • Cancer and other long-term conditions.
  • A congenital cardiac condition.
  • A skull fracture or serious head injury.
  • Meningitis
  • Medicines that inhibit the immune system, such as those used in chemotherapy.
  • Persistent middle ear infections or sinus infections.

Certain birth defects allow infections to get through the teeth and intestines and into the brain. Tetralogy of Fallot, a cardiac defect, is one instance of this.


An abscess in the brain is a dangerous medical condition. It will be necessary to stay in the hospital. Brain injury that is irreversible might result from pressure brought on by brain swelling.

If your abscess is smaller than 2.5 centimetres in diameter or is deeply embedded in your brain, antibiotics will likely be used to treat it. Any underlying illnesses that may have contributed to the brain abscess will also be treated with antibiotic drugs. The most frequently given antibiotics are those with a broad spectrum of activity that kills numerous microorganisms. More than one kind of antibiotic may be required.

If antibiotics don’t reduce an abscess, surgery is frequently the next option. Additionally, it can be the preferable course of action for abscesses wider than 2.5 centimetres. An abscess is typically surgically removed by exposing the skull and emptying the abscess. The fluid that is extracted is typically sent to a lab to identify the infection’s origin. Your doctor can choose the best drugs by understanding the infection’s underlying cause. If antibiotics are ineffective, surgery can also be required in order to identify the organism causing the abscess and establish the best course of action.

In the most severe situations, when the abscess results in a risky increase in pressure in the brain, surgery is required. In the following scenarios, your doctor might advise surgery as the best course of action:

  • You run the risk of your brain abscess rupturing inside your skull.
  • Your brain abscess includes gases that bacteria occasionally create.



An abscess in the brain is a dangerous medical condition. Preventive action is crucial. By keeping an eye out for any disorders that can result in a brain abscess, you can reduce your risk. At the first indication of a brain abscess, contact your doctor.

Before having any dental or urological operations, discuss with your doctor if you have any form of cardiac condition. You may be given antibiotics to take before these operations by your doctor. Your chance of developing an infection that could affect your brain will go down as a result.