Health A-Z

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The symptoms of a brain tumor often are the same as those of other diseases and may develop gradually. That's why they may be overlooked for a long time before diagnosis.

Although a brain tumor rarely causes headaches, someone with no history of headaches who develops them should be seen by a doctor. Headaches from a brain tumor tend to be worse upon waking and ease during the day. Other symptoms may include

  • vomiting and nausea

  • new onset of seizures

  • weakness involving one side of the body, such as an arm and leg on the same side

  • trouble talking or change in speech

  • loss of coordination

  • changes in vision or abnormal eye movements

  • memory or personality changes

  • ringing and hearing loss in one ear

The symptoms noted above are not specific for brain tumor. In fact, most often any of these symptoms are related to some other cause.

The specific symptoms of a brain tumor depend on its size and location. They can be caused by several factors, including

  • increased pressure in the skull

  • damage to vital tissue

  • swelling and fluid buildup

  • hydrocephalus, sometimes called "water on the brain," which results when the flow of cerebrospinal fluid is blocked and builds up in the brain

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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