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What are the Signs of Brain Aneurysm?

By Steve R.
Updated May 17, 2024
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A brain aneurysm is an irregular bulging of an artery in the brain that develops over time. If a brain aneurysm ruptures or leaks, it can lead to a stroke or even death. Approximately one out of 15 people in the United States will be treated for a brain aneurysm. Signs of brain aneurysm often include headaches, eye trouble, mental difficulty, and discomfort.

Major signs of brain aneurysm include severe headaches that appear out of the blue. A person with a brain aneurysm may experience a migraine that is much more severe than any other headache experienced before. Such a sharp migraine is a major symptom of a ruptured aneurysm. These types of headaches are known as prodromal headaches because they serve as a warning for a brain aneurysm.

Approximately 50 percent of individuals who develop a ruptured aneurysm will experience some type of warning headache prior to a rupture. On average, a person will experience a severe headache two weeks before a rupture. A person who develops an unbearable migraine should seek medical treatment, as it may be an indication of a ruptured aneurysm. Approximately half of the cases of ruptured aneurysms result in death.

Signs of brain aneurysm also include visual disturbances, such as sensitivity to light, dilation of one pupil, and the inability to move eyes in every direction. Other visual difficulties may include blurred vision or double vision, discomfort above and behind the eye, and a sagging eyelid. A person may experience visual field deficits, which prevent an individual from seeing things that are in the field of sight.

Besides headaches, signs of a ruptured brain aneurysm may include nausea and vomiting, neck pain, and loss of sensation. A quarter of individuals with ruptured aneurysms will experience seizures. Often times, however, before an aneurysm bursts, a person may experience no symptoms at all.

In less than half of the cases of patients with unruptured aneurysms, patients will experience some type of mental difficulty. This may include trouble remembering things, a loss of concentration, and difficulty with comprehension. Other signs of brain aneurysm may include fatigue, loss of equilibrium, and trouble with annunciation.

A person should see a doctor if headaches are connected with other symptoms including vomiting, dizziness, seizures, and change in sight. Aneurysms also may arise during moments of stress or physical effort. A determination of an aneurysm is made with a CAT scan.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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