Brain Toxicity and Infection

There are many kinds of “everyday” toxins in the environment that can harm your brain. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Cleaning products
  • Nail polish remover
  • Asbestos
  • Perfume
  • Mold
  • Paint thinner
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Fuels
  • Mercury, lead, and other heavy metals
  • Drugs and alcohol

Once they enter the body, toxins are carried through the blood stream into the brain. Toxins can impair brain function and even cause death. The degree and frequency of exposure to a toxic substance will impact the extent of brain injury from it. Chemotherapy treatments for cancer can also have a residual toxic effect on the brain.

Toxic brain injury can cause symptoms that include:

  • Confusion
  • Cognitive problems
  • Memory loss
  • Mood problems
  • Headaches
  • Personality changes
  • Dizziness
  • Pain
  • Fatigue

These symptoms can be mistaken as being caused by other disorders, such as:

  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Dementia

Brain SPECT imaging is incredibly useful for uncovering the source of symptoms especially when a cause, such as toxic exposure, has been overlooked.

Brain Infection

Bacteria, parasites, viruses and other infections can wreak havoc on the brain, quickly. These infectious agents release toxins, which cause inflammation, reduce blood flow and impair healthy brain function. These are some of the illnesses that can lead to brain infections:

  • Lyme disease and related infections
  • West Nile virus
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Meningitis
  • Streptococcus
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Influenza
  • Herpes viruses

Brain infections can cause a multitude of symptoms, including:

  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Fatigue
  • Issues with judgment and impulse control
  • Disorganization
  • Changes to personality
  • Confusion
  • Problems with attention, focus, and concentration
  • Memory loss
  • Seizures

Because these symptoms resemble those of other disorders, people with brain infections are often misdiagnosed with:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Fibromyalgia

Meanwhile, without the appropriate treatment—the infection persists, causing a potential worsening of symptoms and further injury to the brain.

The Importance of Brain SPECT Imaging in Diagnosing and Treating Brain Toxicity and Infections

On SPECT scans, infections in the brain can appear as an overall pattern of significantly high or low blood flow and look similar to a brain affected by toxins. With the sensitivity of SPECT, we can identify a potentially infectious process in the brain and get the patient onto the right course of treatment. SPECT can also show recovery after treatment.

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