I am not a physician, medical researcher, or lexicographer. I have not verified the accuracy or completeness of definitions in this post, and I cannot claim the following definitions are accepted as fact by all medical personnel. I provided the definitions because they answered some of my basic questions about the differences between various conditions. No medical decisions should be made based on definitions in this post.
Glossary According to WebMD
Brain diseases come in different forms. Infections, trauma, stroke, seizures, and tumors are some of the major categories of brain diseases. Here’s an overview of various diseases of the brain.
- Meningitis: An inflammation of the lining around the brain or spinal cord, usually due to infection. Neck pain, headache, and confusion are common symptoms.
- Encephalitis: An inflammation of the brain tissue, usually due to infection. Meningitis and encephalitis often occur together, which is called meningoencephalitis.
- Brain abscess: A pocket of infection in the brain, usually caused by bacteria. Antibiotics and surgical drainage of the area are often necessary.
Included in the seizure category of brain diseases is epilepsy. Head injuries and strokes may cause epilepsy, but usually no cause is identified.
- Concussion: A brain injury that causes a temporary disturbance in brain function, sometimes with unconsciousness and confusion. Traumatic head injuries cause concussions.
- Traumatic brain injury: Permanent brain damage from a traumatic head injury. Obvious mental impairment or more subtle personality and mood changes can occur.
- Intracerebral hemorrhage: Any bleeding inside the brain, which may occur after a traumatic injury or due to high blood pressure.
Tumors, Masses, and Increased Pressure
- Brain tumor: Any abnormal tissue growth inside the brain. Whether malignant (cancerous) or benign, brain tumors usually cause problems by the pressure they exert on the normal brain.
- Glioblastoma: An aggressive, cancerous brain tumor. Brain glioblastomas progress rapidly and are usually difficult to cure.
- Hydrocephalus: An abnormally increased amount of cerebrospinal (brain) fluid inside the skull. Usually, this is because the fluid is not circulating properly.
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus: A form of hydrocephalus that often causes problems with walking, along with dementia and urinary incontinence. Pressures inside the brain remain normal, despite the increased fluid.
- Pseudotumor cerebri: Increased pressure inside the skull with no apparent cause. Vision changes, headaches, dizziness, and nausea are common symptoms.
Vascular (Blood Vessel) Conditions
- Stroke: Blood flow and oxygen are suddenly interrupted to an area of brain tissue, which then dies. The body part controlled by the damaged brain area (such as an arm or a leg) may no longer function properly.
- Ischemic stroke: A blood clot suddenly develops in an artery, blocking blood flow and causing a stroke.
- Hemorrhagic stroke: Bleeding in the brain creates congestion and pressure on brain tissue, impairing healthy blood flow and causing a stroke.
- Cerebrovascular accident (CVA): Another name for stroke.
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA): A temporary interruption of blood flow and oxygen to a part of the brain. Symptoms are similar to those of a stroke, but they resolve completely (usually within 24 hours) without damage to brain tissue.
- Brain aneurysm: An artery in the brain develops a weak area that swells like a balloon. A brain aneurysm rupture causes a stroke, due to bleeding.
- Subdural hematoma: Bleeding on the surface of the brain. A subdural hematoma may exert pressure on the brain, causing neurological problems.
- Epidural hematoma: Bleeding between the skull and tough (dura) lining of the brain. The bleeding is typically from an artery, usually shortly after a head injury. Initial mild symptoms can progress rapidly to unconsciousness and death, if untreated. This is also referred to as an extradural hematoma.
- Intracerebral hemorrhage: Any bleeding inside the brain.
- Cerebral edema: Swelling of the brain tissue which can be due to different causes, including response to injury or electrolyte imbalances.
- Vasculitis: An inflammation of the blood vessels of the brain. Confusion, seizures, headaches, and unconsciousness can result.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS): The immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the body’s own nerves. Muscle spasms, fatigue, and weakness are symptoms. MS may occur in periodic attacks or be steadily progressive.
- Parkinson’s disease: Nerves in a central area of the brain degenerate slowly, causing problems with movement and coordination. A tremor of the hands is a common early sign.
- Huntington’s disease: An inherited nerve disorder that affects the brain. Dementia and difficulty controlling movements (chorea) are its symptoms.
- Pick’s disease (frontotemporal dementia): Over years, large areas of nerves at the front and sides of the brain are destroyed, due to buildup of an abnormal protein. Personality changes, inappropriate behavior, and loss of memory and intellectual ability are symptoms. Pick’s disease is steadily progressive.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): ALS is also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. In ALS, nerves controlling muscle function are steadily destroyed. ALS steadily progresses to paralysis and inability to breathe without mechanical assistance. Cognitive function is generally not affected.
- Dementia: A decline in cognitive function, due to death or malfunction of nerve cells in the brain. Conditions in which nerves in the brain degenerate, as well as alcohol abuse and strokes, can cause dementia.
- Alzheimer’s disease: For unclear reasons, nerves in certain brain areas degenerate, causing progressive loss of memory and mental function. The buildup of abnormal tissue in brain areas — often called tangles and plaques — is believed to contribute to the disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.
Thanks to Google for helping me find the list; WebMD for creating the list; and all other people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text I used in this post.