In addition to the causes of organic brain syndrome mentioned elsewhere, there a few that have not been discussed. We have already concentrated on how trauma to the brain can bring on lasting damage, and on how permanent injury can come about due to respiratory conditions, cardiovascular disorders, degenerative diseases, infections, and substance abuse. What follows is information that supplements what has already been covered in these categories.
As the control center of the body, the brain not only dictates and delegates, but it also is affected by many disorders that may be occurring elsewhere in the body. A prime example of this occurs when the thyroid gland is either over- or under-active. Located at the front of the throat below the Adam’s apple, the thyroid gland is responsible for secreting hormones that regulate growth and energy expenditure. If this gland malfunctions, adverse changes in metabolism may occur. If congenital hypothyroidism is not treated immediately, a baby’s brain functioning will suffer.
Another cause of organic brain syndrome is tumors, otherwise known as brain cancer even though many tumors are not cancerous at all. These growths can cause damage by putting pressure on specific areas of the brain. Symptoms of brain tumor include headache that does not respond to the usual headache remedies. Generally, they are more severe in the morning and are exacerbated by exercise. Other symptoms include seizures, which occur because the normal flow of electricity in the brain is hampered, mood swings or personality changes, and a condition called mass effect. This is due to increased intracranial pressure (IICP), which results from a blockage of brain fluid or swelling around the tumor. IICP causes displacement or compression of brain tissue, and brings about symptoms of nausea, vomiting, vision changes, drowsiness, and personality alterations. If IICP continues to get worse, it is important that the patient seek medical treatment immediately to minimize the chance of permanent brain damage.
Another cause of organic brain syndrome is malnutrition. Often overlooked because it is not as common in the developed world, it cannot be denied that people, particularly children, who do not get proper nutrition can suffer lasting cognitive and brain deficits. In the immediate sense, treatment of brain damage caused by malnutrition must revolve around ensuring that the affected person begins to receive the nourishment he or she needs in order to begin developing properly.
In many cases, the damage to growth and brain functioning cannot be reversed, but it can be halted. In a larger and more global sense, it is incumbent on aid workers, government officials, and humanitarian agencies to take steps to educate families and provide the tangible resources they will need to make malnutrition a thing of the past.