Two Brain Aneurysm Myths That Could Cost You Your Life

According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, about 6 million people are walking around with unruptured aneurysms in their brains and one ruptures about every 18 minutes. Despite how prevalent this condition is, people don't seem to know much about it, which leaves them ripe for believing a host of myths and misconceptions that could result in fatal outcomes. Here's the truth about two of them that could save your life.

Myth #1 – You'll Exhibit Symptoms Long Before It Bursts

One of the most prevalent myths about brain aneurysms is a person will experience the symptoms of having one long before it actually becomes problematic. The truth is the majority of people who have these growths in their brains don't exhibit any symptoms. In fact, it's not unusual for a person to have an unruptured aneurysm his or her entire life and never know until they receive brain scans for non-related reasons.

In cases where the aneurysm has grown large enough to begin pressing on brain tissues and nerves, patients may experience some symptoms such as:

  • Drooping eyelid
  • Double or altered vision
  • Dilated pupil
  • Eye pain (above or behind)
  • Facial paralysis, numbness, or weakness

More likely than not, though, you won't experience any symptoms until the moment the aneurysm ruptures. People who have survived these events describe the experience as the worst headache they've ever had. You may experience sudden and severe head pain, nausea, sensitivity to light, drooping eyelids, loss of consciousness, stiff neck, confusion, or have a seizure.

An aneurysm shares many of the same symptoms as a stroke, and a person may assume that's what's happening when the aneurysm breaks. Regardless, both conditions are medical emergencies, and you should seek treatment as soon as possible if you start experiencing these symptoms.

Myth #2 – Unruptured Aneurysms Don't Need Treatment

As noted previously, people can live their entire lives with unruptured aneurysms and never have any problems with them. Therefore, it's easy to believe that even if you discover you have one, there's nothing you need to do about it.

However, aneurysms develop as a result of weakened artery walls which, in turn, are caused by an overarching condition such as arthrosclerosis. If the overarching condition isn't treated or you don't make certain lifestyle changes (e.g. quit smoking), the aneurysm can enlarge and injure brain tissues.

Aneurysms are much easier to treat when they are small. Therefore, it's best to take care of the problem as soon as you're diagnosed to maximize your chances of survival.

For more information about aneurysms or to start treatment to fix one, contact a neurologist, like one from Billings Clinic.