A primary brain tumor (a tumor that begins in the brain) can be either benign or malignant. This medical condition can occur at any age and its causes are still unclear. A brain tumor comes in all shapes and sizes and this applies to its symptoms too. Nevertheless, some signs are more common than others. Here are some of the major warning signs of brain tumors you should watch out for.
1. Seizures – The tumor irritates the brain making the neurons fire without control. This can cause irregular movements, such as convulsions of the whole body or partial flexing or jerking of a limb or a part of the face. In general, seizures are among the first signs of a brain tumor.
2. Numbness and clumsiness – Losing feeling in a part of the body and/or clumsy movements are especially associated with brain stem tumors. In case you realize you’re losing balance, missing steps, having swallowing and speaking issues, those may be the signs of a brain tumor. Loss of feeling is something you should also keep an eye on.
3. Behavior and personality changes – Family members and close friends may notice changes in personality and behavior first. The shifts aren’t radical, but people with brain tumor can be in a bad mood and feeling confused before they even realize they’re having an underlying medical condition. In most cases, brain tumors can cause memory, reasoning and thinking problems.
4. Nausea and/or vomiting – Feeling nauseous or vomiting early in the morning when it’s not related to other medical conditions are a potential warning sign.
5. Changes in vision – Brain tumors can cause double or blurred vision, abnormal eye movements and vision changes. These symptoms depend on the size, type and location of the tumor. For example, tumors near or on the optical nerve can cause double and/or blurred vision, whereas other tumor types can cause irregular eye movements.
6. Headaches – For a reason, this sign is listed last. Although headaches can be an indicator of a brain tumor, they aren’t among the first symptoms to occur. In addition, a headache can be a result of almost any medical or lifestyle issue, including dehydration and lack of sleep. However, if you get unusual headaches or the ones you normally get become more frequent and/or more intense, it is highly recommended to see your doctor. Headaches that are constant, dull and throbbing from time to time, especially if they wake you up from your sleep or get worse in the morning should be taken seriously.
How to Prevent Brain Tumors?
Since the causes of brain tumors are not fully understood yet, there are no specific ways to prevent it. However, taking care of your overall health would be your best first line of defense.
Make sure you eat a healthy diet that contains a lot of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, good fats, eggs, and other nutritious foods.
Some people choose to supplement their diet with medicinal herbs that have brain-tonic properties, such as ashwagandha, ginkgo biloba, bacopa monnieri, and others. And there are also non-stimulant OTC nootropics that enhance neurotransmitters and brain functions. While no supplements or drugs can prevent brain cancer, they may help reduce the risk by keeping your brain well and strong.
And finally, exercise more often and get adequate rest every night. People who stay awake during the night and don’t get enough sleep are more susceptible to developing mental disorders, which may eventually evolve into a tumor.
How to Treat Brain Tumors?
Depending on the size and location of the tumor, there can be different treatment options including surgery, radiation therapy, drugs, and chemotherapy.
Surgical removal of the tumor is the most effective and common treatment option. This involves either removing the entire tumor or as much as can be removed without causing significant damage to the surrounding healthy brain tissue. In case the tumor was partially removed, the remaining parts will then be treated with chemotherapy or radiation.
Patients need to discuss possible treatment options with their doctor, who can suggest the most suitable treatment route depending on the patient’s age, health, and the characteristics of the tumor.