Cysts are small pouches of fluid that can form on organs anywhere in the body. Brain cysts can be caused by developmental abnormalities and may be present at birth, causing them to be classified as primary brain cysts. Secondary brain cysts, on the other hand, develop later in life due to head trauma or some other injury. Brain cysts may be asymptomatic or can cause a variety of different symptoms.
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Symptoms Due to Pressing on the Brain
Many of the symptoms caused by brain cysts are due to the cyst pressing on and applying pressure to the brain. For example, brain cysts can result in a headache, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explains. Patients may also develop seizures if the mass interferes with electrical conduction in the brain, as abnormal electrical activity in the brain can result in sudden muscle jerks or other symptoms of seizures.
Some brain cysts can result in a condition known as hydrocephalus, HealthScout notes. Hydrocephalus is a condition in which the flow of liquid out of the cranial cavity is impeded, causing an increase in intracranial pressure. Hydrocephalus can result in weakness, nausea and vomiting. Patients who have hydrocephalus may also periodically lose consciousness or be drowsy, irritable or confused.
Brain cysts can also affect the senses. Patients with a brain cyst may experience blurred or double vision. They may also have problems hearing properly, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports. Because the ear also controls balance patients who have a brain cyst may also have problems with dizziness, balance and walking as a result of the growth in or on their brain.
Brain cysts can also cause problems with muscles in the body if they are near the brain stem or spinal cord. Depending on the location of the cysts, the neck, back, legs or arms may be affected. The affected portion of the body may be weak or paralyzed, though numbness or tingling may also occur.
Meningitis, which is an inflammation of the meninges, can occur when brain cysts rupture, New York-Presbyterian notes. The meninges are a layer of tissue that protect the surface of the brain. Inflammation of this tissue can cause a severe headache, fever and stiffness of the neck.