Brain tumor symptoms tend to be the same as other illnesses. Many times, symptoms don't immediately raise flags that alert a physician to diagnose a brain tumor. Most primary brain tumors are considered rare, although the rate of incidents is increasing. Due to the fact many of the symptoms are generalized and mirror other illnesses. Physicians often don't evaluate patients right off the bat for brain tumors. Physicians generally rule out other, less serious conditions initially.
Brain tumor symptoms vary greatly from person to person because of two factors where the tumor is located and the size of the tumor. The size of a tumor, however, does not affect the severity of symptoms. A very small tumor can cause severe symptoms. It is all relative to what part of the brain is affected and where the tumor is located.
Since your brain controls many all functions of the body, symptoms can vary depending on where the tumor is located within the brain. If the tumor is located within an area that controls vision, then a patient may experience visual issues; whereas if the tumor is located in an area that controls motor functions or movement, than a patient may experience difficulty in moving arms, legs or hands.
The general symptoms of a brain tumor include:
- Personality or Mood Changes
- Changes in Vision or Hearing
- Cognitive Issues or Changes
- Changes in Speech
- Physical Changes / Motor Function
Headaches: Up to half of people with brain tumors suffer from headaches, but they are much more likely to be related to another benign condition. Headaches are not usually the initial symptom of a brain tumor or the only one experienced. Brain tumor headaches are often accompanied by other symptoms. Frequent headaches should not be ignored regardless of accompanying symptoms, especially those that worsen with sneezing, couching, or bending over.
Vomiting: Vomiting, especially in the morning and without nausea, can be a symptom of a brain tumor. Nausea, however, can be present, just not as common as without. Like headaches, this is a very vague symptom that could be caused by a number of things.
Personality or Mood Changes: Adults with brain tumors sometimes experience personality changes that are frustrating and can definitely interrupt daily living activities. Laughing at things that are not humorous, sudden increased interest in sex, temper tantrums, paranoia, and social decline, are just a few of the possible personality changes that one may experience if they have a brain tumor. In contrast, personality changes can also mean an exaggeration of normal characteristics.
Seizures: Up to a third of people report having seizures prior to being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Seizures cause the body to shake and tremor in varying intensity. They can also cause one to stare for several minutes or have visual disturbance like flashing lights. Loss of consciousness can also occur.
Changes in Vision and Hearing: Some brain tumors can cause visual or hearing disturbances that are difficult to ignore. Problems with vision can include seeing flashing lights, blurring, and floaters. Hearing disturbances can include one sided hearing loss and ringing in the ears.
Cognitive Issues or Changes: Slower processing speed of the brain can be a symptom of a brain tumor. If you find it takes you longer to complete tasks than it usually does, report it to your doctor. This isn't related to fatigue or lack of motivation. These are tasks that require thinking like simple math, writing sentences, such as following a recipe. People with brain tumors may find it takes great effort to complete the most basic task. Memory loss and difficulty concentrating can be typical with some brain tumors, as well.
Changes in Speech: Speech changes in relation to brain tumors can include a wide array of changes. Slurring of the words or slow speech can occur. A person with a brain tumor may say things that make very little sense, despite efforts to communicate with the correct words. Sentences may have words in the incorrect order or even include words that have no relevance. This lack of effective communication can be a frustrating symptom for people with brain tumors.
Physical Changes Motor Function: An adult with a brain tumor may experience weakness on one side of the body. He may become suddenly "clumsy" losing balance or walking to walls or stumbling. An abnormal gait may also be present. Coordinated movements may become difficult.
What to Do If Think You May Have a Brain Tumor
If you think that you may have a brain tumor, see your doctor. It is likely your symptoms are related to another condition, but these symptoms warrant an evaluation from your doctor. Do not be hesitant to share your concerns of having a brain tumor. This way your doctor can address your concerns early on and explain what he or she suspects is the cause of your symptoms and why.
If you are concerned about symptoms you are experiencing, please call your doctor. This material is not intended as medical advice. The symptoms listed can have many different causes; your doctor can listen to your concerns and help you find the cause of your symptoms.