Affecting between 1,500 and 2,500 Americans each year, brain abscesses are a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. A brain abscess is a collection of fluid and pus that develops as a result of an infection or head trauma. As the abscess becomes larger, the patient will experience various symptoms resulting in a combination of infection, brain tissue damage, and pressure on the brain.

What is a Brain Abscess?

A brain abscess normally results from either a fungal or bacterial infection in a part of the brain. When bacteria infects an area of the brain, inflammation and swelling start to occur. As the abscess grows, a membrane develops around it, which helps to isolate the infection and keep it from spreading to other healthy tissue.

The brain is protected by a blood-brain barrier- a protective layer of blood vessels and cells. This barrier blocks certain blood components and allows others to pass through. Sometimes the infectious organisms can travel through the bloodstream, bypassing this barrier, and therefore penetrating and infecting the brain.

3 Main Ways a Brain Abscess Can Develop

  • An infection in another part of the skull: Such as an ear infection, sinusitis, or tooth abscess, which can spread directly to the brain
  • An infection in another part of the body: When an infection spreads into the brain- such as pneumonia
  • Trauma: A severe head or skull injury (such as a bullet wound) that cracks the skull, allowing bacteria to enter the brain

It’s important to note that, in some cases, the source of the infection is unknown.

Common Symptoms of a Brain Abscess

As the abscess swells, it puts increased pressure on the surrounding brain area and tissue. As the skull is not flexible it therefore cannot expand. The pressure from the abscess can block blood vessels, preventing oxygen from reaching the brain. What happens to a patient when they develop a brain abscess? This depends on the size and position within the brain. However, despite the extent and location, there are a number of common symptoms, which include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain
  • Blurred or double or vision
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness and lethargy
  • Poor mental focus
  • Poor responsiveness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Speech problems, such as slurred speech

Brain Abscess Treatment

Treatment may include antibiotics, surgical drainage of the affected area, and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. Physicians also consider HBOT for patients that show little improvement after antibiotic therapy and surgical intervention.

The main benefit of HBOT is that it stimulates and supports the body’s natural healing capabilities. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy helps patients suffering from brain abscesses because it fills the body with pure oxygen, and the area of the abscess is also flooded with oxygen. This influx of oxygen helps to hinder the ability of the bacteria or virus to spread and continue infecting. In addition to this, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy also works to reduce the swelling associated with an abscess, as well as boost the body’s immune system to fight the infection itself. And, when white blood cells receive enough oxygen, they can effectively kill bacteria. HBOT can also enable cells to build new connective tissue and improve organ function.

Get in Touch Today

If you are suffering from a brain abscess or have a patient that is not responding to antibiotics, you may want to consider Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. At the R3 Wound Care Clinic, we administer HBOT in a private setting with the latest hyperbaric technology. The treatment takes place in a clear acrylic chamber where the patient may comfortably recline and see their surroundings at all times.

How much does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy cost? This depends on the number of treatments that each individual patient requires. Contact our wound healing and hyperbaric center today at (817) 337-6604 to receive a quote and find out more.