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Brain diseases and conditions

The brain is usually well protected within the skull - but it can be damaged through accidents, health conditions such as strokes, or infected by diseases like meningitis.

Brain infections

Infections affecting the brain include:


Seizures, such as those experienced by some people with epilepsy, can affect the brain.

Accidents and injury

Accidents and injuries to the head and brain include:

  • Concussion, after a blow to the head, often causing temporary confusion or making the person unconscious
  • Traumatic brain injury, causing brain damage that is permanent after a head injury
  • Bleeding in the brain, or haemorrhage, after an injury or caused by high blood pressure.

Tumours and problems increasing pressure in the brain

  • Abnormal growths can cause problems in the brain, including increased pressure, or affecting certain areas of the brain.
  • Brain tumours, from cancer such as glioblastomas, or non-cancerous growths (benign).
  • Hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid inside the skull affecting the brain.
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus, problems from increased amounts of fluid in the brain without pressure rising.
  • Idiopathic intracranial hypertension, increased pressure diagnosed inside the skull but where the cause is not known.

Blood vessel (vascular) conditions

Because a good supply of blood is vital for the brain, it can be affected when this supply is blocked or restricted, including:

  • Ischaemic stroke, caused by blood clots in arteries
  • Haemorrhagic stroke, caused by bleeding in the brain
  • Transient ischaemic attack (TIA), a less severe type of stroke sometimes called a mini-stroke
  • Brain aneurysm, where an artery in the brain swells and can rupture
  • Subdural haematoma, where there is bleeding on the surface of the brain that can increase pressure and cause neurological problems
  • Epidural haematoma, where there is bleeding between the skull and the lining of the brain
  • Intracerebral haemorrhage is a term used to describe any bleeding inside the brain
  • Cerebral oedema, swelling of the brain tissue.

Autoimmune conditions

Autoimmune conditions happen when the body's defence systems wrongly turns on part of the body itself, including:

  • Vasculitis, inflammation of blood vessels of the brain
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS), where nerve coatings are damaged affecting signals to and from the brain.

Neurodegenerative conditions

These are conditions where parts of the brain or nerves break down or degenerate from conditions including:

  • Dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, causing loss of cognitive (brain or thinking) functions
  • Parkinson's disease, causing problems with movement and coordination and often causing tremors
  • Huntington's disease, an inherited nerve disorder affecting the brain
  • Pick's disease, this condition slowly affects nerves at the front and sides of the brain
  • Motor neurone disease (MND), also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), where nerves controlling muscles become destroyed, but without affecting thinking skills.


WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 12, 2016

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