An intracranial hemorrhage is bleeding inside the skull (cranium). The collection of blood puts pressure on the brain, which can lead to rapid brain damage or death.
Intracranial hemorrhage is a life-threatening medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Call 9-1-1 if you show symptoms.
Arizona’s finest neurological care is available at Dignity Health, including for brain hemorrhage, throughout Arizona. Our Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s location has been named a top neurological hospital by US News and World Report. Find a Doctor online.
Brain Hemorrhage Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of an intracranial hemorrhage usually come on abruptly. The most common sign is a sudden and severe headache, although this may not always occur, particularly among older people. Other intracranial hemorrhage signs and symptoms are:
- Tingling, weakness, or paralysis (loss of movement) on one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
- Disorientation and confusion
- Loss of or change in vision
- Difficulty swallowing
- Change in level of consciousness (a)lertness
Call 9-1-1 immediately if you experience any signs or symptoms of an intracranial hemorrhage.
Causes of Intracranial Hemorrhage
An intracranial hemorrhage occurs when an artery inside the skull leaks or ruptures. Bleeding in or around the brain is classified further as cerebral (b)rain hemorrhage.
The main causes of intracranial hemorrhage are:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure). High blood pressure can weaken the blood vessels in your brain, causing them to leak or rupture.
- Head trauma. Any type of head injury can cause a blood vessel to rupture, especially if there is already a weakness.
- Abnormalities in the blood vessels of the brain. Conditions such as an aneurysm (a) spot in a blood vessel that becomes weak and balloons out or angioma (a) benign tumor made of blood vessels can lead to ruptures that release blood inside the skull.
Less common causes of intracranial hemorrhage are bleeding disorders (p)articularly those that require blood-thinning medication and abnormal arteries or veins (a)rteriovenous malformations.
Intracranial Hemorrhage Treatment at Dignity Health
Intracranial hemorrhage treatment focuses on stopping the bleeding and reducing brain damage. Your doctor may perform surgery to relieve pressure on the brain or repair the rupture. People with intracranial hemorrhage often receive blood transfusions and medication to help increase blood clotting.
People who survive an intracranial hemorrhage may require rehabilitation if permanent damage has occurred. The faster you get emergency treatment, the better your chances are for a positive recovery.
Prevention of intracranial hemorrhage depends on the cause. While not all factors can be controlled, you can work with your doctor to reduce your risk by taking these steps:
- Manage high blood pressure to reduce the risk of damage to the blood vessels in your brain.
- Avoid smoking or illegal drugs, which can weaken the arteries inside your skull.
- Protect yourself from head trauma by removing hazards from your environment that could cause falls, such as loose rugs.
- Wear a helmet when performing activities that could result in head injuries, such as skiing, skating, and cycling.
Dignity Health provides personalized care for intracranial hemorrhage in Arizona.