Sometimes when there is an infection in your body, you may develop an abscess. It appears as a swollen area of pus or translucent fluid within a confined pocket. Some abscesses are painful, and they can show up anywhere inside your body, including your brain.
When an abscess forms in the brain, it’s necessary to remove it before it causes permanent damage. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has been proven to be an effective complement to other treatments because it significantly improves the outcome for a patient.
Causes of an Abscess
An abscess happens when an infection, usually bacteria, attacks your cells. In response, your body sends a team of white blood cells to battle that infection. While the infection is attacking your cells, these cells begin to die off, leaving a cavity inside your tissue. Your immune system comes to the rescue by sending white blood cells to kill the infection and also fluid to confine the infection so that it can not leave the area it’s in.
Some bacterial infections will try to fight back by releasing toxins to kill the white blood cells. The immune system, in return, sends more white blood cells, and the accumulation of dead white blood cells in the fluid will form the protein-rich fluid we know as pus. As this abscess swells, it can cause damage to nearby tissue.
An Abscess in the Brain
While the body is designed with several defenses to protect the brain, such as the blood-brain barrier, in some instances, the infection may still get in. For example, the blood-brain barrier could be damaged by swelling, which creates gaps in the barrier. Infection in the brain sometimes results from a dental abscess, an ear infection, or a sinus infection that has gone out of control. About one-fourth of the time, despite the blood-brain barrier, infection will enter the brain through the blood. When the infection gets into the brain, an abscess in the brain may form.
Sometimes infections will first develop outside of the head before traveling to the brain. Most common are a lung infection, skin infection, pelvic and bladder infection, and any infection resulting from a heart defect. Also, bacteria that originate in the gut can pose a threat to the brain, such as peritonitis which is an infection of the bowel lining. Infection is always more likely to enter the brain if, for some reason, the immune system is weak.
Symptoms of a Brain Abscess
If you have a brain abscess, your first sign could be a seizure (although not always). Some of the other symptoms you could experience would be:
- Headache, especially on the side of the abscess
- Changes in mental status
- Difficulty focusing
- Slower thoughts
- Less responsive
Increases White Blood Cell Effectiveness
Stimulates Release of Stem Cells
Improves Quality of Life in Patients
Most Conditions Covered by Insurance
Healing a Brain Abscess
If a brain abscess is suspected, doctors will order blood tests to check for an infection. Before the brain abscess is confirmed, antibiotics will be prescribed to avoid further complications. Then either a CT scan or an MRI scan will be administered to produce an image inside the patient’s body that will confirm if the brain abscess exists.
Once the abscess has been confirmed, a needle guided by a CT scan will be inserted to the site of the abscess so that pus can be drawn out and tested. If the abscess is larger than 2cm, brain surgery will be performed. Either the pus will be drained through a hole in the skull, or the skull will be opened enough so that the abscess can be removed entirely.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Improves the Outcome of a Brain Abscess
Studies have found that when a patient with a brain abscess receives hyperbaric oxygen therapy in addition to antibiotics, the outcome is far more successful, and surgery is less likely needed. Even when surgery is necessary, patients who receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy are more than twice as likely to fully recover without further complications or the need for a second surgery.
This is likely because hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases oxygen in the blood, enriching your plasma with so much oxygen that it floods into your tissues. This level of oxygen in your brain tissue kills infection by puncturing the individual cell walls of all pathogens with electrons while also restoring white blood cells to work at killing bacteria in their way.
Does Insurance Cover Hyperbaric Treatments?
Coverage for HBO is dependent on your insurance company’s Coverage Determination Policy.
Some indications are still not covered or coverage can vary by insurance provider. Contact us to verify coverage.