It is important to be aware of the symptoms, so you can go to your doctor if you are concerned.
Headaches associated with brain tumours (tumors) are usually severe, throbbing, worse in the morning (you may wake with one) and aggravated by straining or coughing. Often these headaches can not be managed by pain killers, but their intensity and pain may reduce when you are stood upright and the build-up of Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) begins to drain.
Changes in vision
A brain tumour can also affect your vision. You might experience blurred vision, making it difficult to read and watch TV, or you may experience fleeting loss of vision (‘greying out’), often occurring when you suddenly stand up or change posture.
Seizures, sometimes referred to as ‘fits’, are one of the common symptoms of a brain tumour. One quarter of people diagnosed with a brain tumour visit their doctor for the first time after a seizure. Seizures can be severe or more subtle.
Severe seizures can cause you to lose consciousness for the duration of the fit while your whole body twitches.
Subtle seizures, which are more common than severe seizures in people with brain tumours, can cause one of your limbs to twitch, changes in sensation (e.g. taste or smell), experiencing periods of ‘absence’, or adopting an unusual posture. You do not lose consciousness during a subtle seizure.
Nausea (feeling sick)
Nausea, as with headaches, may be worse in the morning or if you suddenly change position e.g. move from sitting or lying to standing. You may actually feel sick or just have hiccups.
Drowsiness is usually a later symptom of brain tumours. As the tumour grows and the pressure increases, you may sleep more than normal or find yourself falling asleep during the day.
How location affects symptoms
If a brain tumour is located in the frontal lobe, symptoms may include difficulty with:
- speaking and communicating
- controlling emotions and behaviour
- learning new information
If a brain tumour is located in the temporal lobe, symptoms may include difficulty with:
- identifying and categorising objects
- learning new information
- correctly identifying emotions in others
If a brain tumour is located in the parietal lobe, symptoms may include difficulty with:
- processing information from your different senses (touch, vision, hearing, smell, taste)
- co-ordinating movements
- spatial awareness e.g. judging distances, hand-eye co-ordination
- speaking, understanding words, writing and reading
If a brain tumour is located in the occipital lobe, symptoms may include difficulty with:
- vision, for example identifying objects or colours
If a brain tumour is located in the cerebellum, symptoms may include difficulty with:
- a loss of co-ordination
- difficulty walking and speaking
- flickering of the eyes
- stiff neck
- problems with dexterity (skills in using your hands)
If a brain tumour is located in the brain stem, symptoms may include difficulty with:
- unsteadiness and difficulty walking
- facial weakness
- double vision
- difficulty speaking and swallowing