Cerebral edema: Symptoms, causes, treatment, outlook

Swelling or inflammation is part of the body’s natural response to injury. Edema refers to swelling due to trapped fluid, and it can happen anywhere in the body. If edema occurs in the brain, however, it can cause severe complications.

Cerebral edema can restrict the supply of blood to the brain. Blood carries oxygen to the brain, which the brain requires to function. A lack of oxygen in the brain can damage brain cells or cause them to die.

Intracranial pressure (ICP) can affect specific regions of the brain or the whole brain depending on the underlying cause.

Cerebral edema can cause irreversible damage and, in some cases, be fatal.


Symptoms of cerebral edema may include:

  • a headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • memory problems
  • difficulty speaking
  • seizures
  • vision loss
  • neck pain
  • difficulty moving
  • loss of consciousness

The symptoms will vary depending on the severity and underlying cause of the swelling.

Cerebral edemas require immediate medical attention to reduce the risk of permanent damage or death.

Treatments will vary depending on the severity and underlying cause of ICP, but may include:

  • Medication: Doctors will use drugs to reduce swelling or blood clots. Examples include aspirin, which thins the blood and reduces the chances of blood clots.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to reduce ICP. Surgery could involve removing a part of the skull and repairing the damage, such as a ruptured blood vessel. Ventriculostomy is another possible procedure. It involves inserting a plastic tube into the skull to drain excess fluid and reduce ICP.
  • Hypothermia: This form of therapy involves lowering the body temperature, which can reduce swelling in the brain.
  • Osmotherapy: Osmotherapy involves using medications to remove water from the brain to help increase blood flow to the brain and reduce ICP.


Cerebral edemas can have severe and irreversible consequences. The outlook can vary considerably, depending on the precise location and severity of the edema, as well as how quickly a person receives treatment.

It is crucial for doctors to provide immediate and appropriate medical attention to minimize the risk of complications.

Source: Read Full Article