Types of Brain Hemorrhages

Updated July 19, 2017

Brain haemorrhages are also known as bleeding in the brain. The cause of a brain haemorrhage is when an artery in the brain begins to swell and then it bursts. The bleeding can result in brain cells being killed. It can occur anywhere in or on the brain. There are four different types of brain haemorrhages that can occur. With prompt treatment, there can be a full recovery.

Intracerebral haemorrhage

Intracerebral haemorrhages occur when there is bleeding in the brain. This haemorrhage can occur in any part of the brain. It can be caused by an aneurysm or a traumatic head injury. If neither of the previous conditions are causes, then the haemorrhage could be caused by high blood pressure or hypertension. When an intracerebral haemorrhage occurs, the blood will irritate the brain tissues resulting in swelling of the brain. It may collect into a mass called hematoma. The hematoma or the swelling will then increase pressure on the brain tissues and will quickly destroy them. If the haemorrhage is treated for immediately, a good prognosis can be probable.

Subdural haemorrhage

A subdural haemorrhage occurs when there is bleeding between the brain and its outer linings, the meninges. A majority of these haemorrhages occur when trauma to the head damages the fragile veins within the meninges. They can go unnoticed for days or weeks. Subdural haemorrhages occur in approximately 15 per cent of all head trauma cases. The prognosis for subdural haemorrhages can vary depending on the type of head injury that occurred, how much bleeding occurred and how soon the individual received treatment.

Subarachnoid haemorrhage

Subarachnoid haemorrhages occur when there is bleeding between the brain and the middle membrane (arachnoid) that covers the brain. This type of haemorrhage is spontaneous and it occurs in roughly 1 out of 10,000 people. It is most common in individuals between the ages of 30 and 60 years old. According to the American Stroke Association, between 5 per cent to 10 per cent of strokes are caused by subarachnoid haemorrhages. Head trauma resulting in an aneurysm is the most common cause of this type of haemorrhage. For most subarachnoid haemorrhages, the outcome is probable.

Epidural haemorrhage

Epidural haemorrhages occur when there is bleeding between the outer membrane that covers the brain (the dura mater) and the inner skull wall. It mostly occurs in younger individuals because the membrane that covers their brains is not as firmly attached to the skull as with older individuals. Epidural haemorrhages are most often caused by a skull fracture that may have happened during one's childhood or adolescent years. This type of haemorrhage must be treated for immediately because it can lead to permanent brain damage or death.


The symptoms of a brain haemorrhage can vary. The symptoms can develop gradually over time or all of a sudden. Also, the type of symptoms depends on how severe the bleeding is and its location.

Some of the symptoms include nausea or vomiting, becoming lethargic, a severe and sudden headache, seizures, and weakness in a leg or an arm. Other serious symptoms are vision changes, numbness or tingling in the body, and difficulty speaking or swallowing. An individual suffering from bleeding in the brain may also have a loss of balance and coordination and also loss of fine motor skills.

If an individual experiences any of the above symptoms, seek medical help immediately.


By letting the physician know what the exact symptoms are, he will be able to determine which area of the brain is affected. Brain haemorrhages can be diagnosed through a series of neurological exams. These exams will help find evidence of any pressure on the brain or any brain functions that seem to be diminishing. A physician will perform a computed tomography (CT) scan of the individual's brain to confirm the diagnosis. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) angiogram may also be performed.


Because brain haemorrhages are such a severe and life threatening medical condition, surgery may be required to remove what was causing the bleeding. Some medications that may be given to the individual are corticosteroids for swelling, painkillers and anticonvulsants to prevent seizures. An individual suffering from bleeding in the brain may also require fluids and blood given through an IV to replace the fluids and blood that was lost.

Many who suffered from brain haemorrhages have had a good recovery. For some, they may have some permanent brain damage. Bleeding in the brain can cause death, so it is important to seek help right away.

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About the Author

Alicia Kirkland is a child support specialist with the Department of Social Services. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Morris College and a Master of Arts in human resource management from Webster University.