Brain abscess

A brain abscess is a pocket of infection that forms in the brain. Depending on its size and location, a brain abscess may cause headaches, personality changes, one-sided weakness, fever and chills, nausea and vomiting, and seizures.

Brain abscesses are uncommon. They may be caused by:

  • The spread of infection from somewhere else in the head, such as the gums (gingivitis), mouth, nose, ear, or sinus.
  • A deep head wound that penetrates the brain.
  • Infection that has traveled through the bloodstream from somewhere else in the body.

Treatment includes medication to fight the infection and decrease swelling in the brain. In some cases a brain abscess requires surgical drainage.

Last Updated: October 12, 2009

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine & Steven L. Schneider, MD - Family Medicine

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