Brain Tumors Side Effects Complications

Every brain tumor is unique, and patients present with a variety of complications, depending on the type and location of the tumor. Some brain tumor complications are common in multiple types of tumors, and others are only associated with one type of brain tumor. For example, brain tumor headaches are one of the most common complications for all brain tumor patients.

Many different types of rehabilitation are available for patients who suffer from brain tumor complications. Physicians and therapists can help patients improve their quality of life before, during and after brain tumor treatment.

Brain Tumor Seizures and Other Complications

Brain tumors may cause a myriad of problems, including:

  • Decreased sensation
  • Depression
  • Difficulties with walking or speech
  • Headaches
  • Hearing problems, such as ringing or loss
  • Lack of coordination or balance
  • Loss of ability to interact or function
  • Loss of brain function
  • Loss of, or change in, vision
  • Personality changes
  • Return of tumor
  • Seizures
  • Weakness or paralysis.

Some brain tumor complications can be very serious or even fatal. Severe complications include:

  • Herniation
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Increased Intracranial Pressure (IICP)
  • Stroke.

Severe Brain Tumor Complications

In cases of brain tumor herniation, pressure from the tumor alters the normal position of brain tissue. Herniations are common complications of brain tumors and may lead to:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Coma
  • Irregular breathing
  • Irregular pulse
  • Loss of brain stem reflexes (blinking, gagging).

Hydrocephalus is the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the cavities of the brain, which occurs when the tumor obstructs the flow of CSF. Pressure from swelling or the growth itself impairs proper functioning of the central nervous system. Symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Tiredness
  • Vision problems
  • Vomiting.

Increased Intracranial Pressure (IICP) can lead to hydrocephalus or herniation. Symptoms include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Personality changes
  • Swollen optic nerve
  • Visual changes or problems, such as double vision
  • Vomiting.

Stroke is a rapid decrease in function of the brain resulting from a blocked or burst blood vessel. It may result in one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Impairment or complete loss of vision
  • Inability to speak or understand others
  • Paralysis.

Brain tumor complications also include side effects from treatments for the tumor, such as fatigue or nausea from chemotherapy drugs.

Resources Staff. (2010). Signs and symptoms, complications. Retrieved April 21, 2010, from the website:

Healthline Staff. (2009). Brain tumor — Complications. Retrieved April 21, 2010, from the website:

Medline Plus Staff. (n.d.). Brain herniation. Retrieved May 4, 2010, from the National Institutes of Health website: