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Brain Tumors: Symptoms

Photo of a woman expressing pain.

Brain Tumors: Symptoms

What are the symptoms of brain tumors?

Brain tumor symptoms depend on the size and location of the tumor. Symptoms are caused by the damage the tumor does to parts of the brain, and increased pressure inside the skull.

If a brain tumor grows slowly, its symptoms may appear very slowly over time. You may not notice them for a long time. The most common symptoms of a brain tumor include:

  • Headaches. They can be worse in the morning. The headaches may wake you up in the middle of the night. They will often become less painful as the day goes on. About half of people with brain tumors complain of headaches. The headaches tend not to cause sensitivity to light and sound that are common with a migraine.

  • Fainting. This may be caused by increased intracranial pressure.

  • Seizures. These are uncontrollable convulsions of the body

  • Nausea. This may occur with or without vomiting. The latter is more typical in children.

  • Weakness or loss of feeling. This occurs in the arms, legs, or both.

Symptoms can also include:

  • Stumbling or inability to walk

  • Changes in vision or abnormal eye movements

  • Changes in personality, memory, or speech

  • Changes in alertness, from increased sleepiness to coma

Certain symptoms can occur as a result of a tumor in a specific part of the brain. The symptoms depend on which part of the brain is affected. For example, a tumor may cause symptoms such as:

  • Weakness on 1 side of the body

  • Trouble talking

  • A reduced field of vision

As the tumor grows, an increase in intracranial pressure (ICP) within the skull can worsen symptoms such as:

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

Swelling around the tumor, called edema, can make symptoms worse.

When to see your healthcare provider

Many of these symptoms may be caused by other health problems. But it is important to see your healthcare provider if you have these symptoms. Only a healthcare provider can tell if you have a brain tumor.

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