Do concussions increase the risk for brain tumors?

August 02, 2017 | by Amaryllis Gil, MD

Any serious damage done to our brain is alarming. As the most vital organ and boss of our bodies, our brain coordinates muscle movement and controls our balance, refluxes and other basic life functions. It also helps determine who we are, including our personality.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a disruption in the normal function of the brain caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury.

When we suffer any type of TBI, like a concussion, our brain has difficulty healing and regaining normal function. Even one concussion can cause serious problems. After a concussion, you may find yourself feeling slowed down and have difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating and remembering new information.

For years, scientists have been trying to determine whether serious head trauma is related to an increase risk for brain tumors. Some studies have shown a link between head trauma and non-cancerous tumors, but not between head trauma and cancerous brain tumors.

One long-term study found that because brain tumors are relatively rare, the individual risk of a brain tumor from trauma to the head is small and is not associated with the severity or location of the head injury.

Some people who experience a concussion may find themselves suffering from other complications, like a seizure. A history of seizures has long been associated with brain tumors, but because a brain tumor can cause seizures, it is not known if seizures increase the risk of brain tumors or if seizures occur because of the tumor.

General signs and symptoms of a brain tumor include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Balance problems
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Seizures
  • Drowsiness or even coma

Having one or more of the above symptoms does not mean that you have a brain tumor. The symptoms listed may have other causes.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or if they are getting worse over time, contact your physician so the cause can be found and treated.

Learn more about brain and spine tumor treatment at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Read related blogs:
When headaches can be brain tumors
What every parent should know about childhood concussions

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