01/8The need to look beyond COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic took a huge toll on not just people's lives, but also on the medical system around the world. Even today, when people have gotten used to the virus and have learnt to co-exist with it, there's a sense of doubt and unpredictability when it comes to the disease.
Whether you experience a sore throat, a body ache or have a general feeling of being unwell, the first thought that comes to one's mind is COVID-19. That said, COVID-19 has therefore overshadowed other illnesses that could cause similar symptoms, but could have a more serious consequence.
Let's take a look at a recent ordeal faced by a teenage boy in the United Kingdom.
02/8A teen's symptoms 'misdiagnosed' as long COVID
An aspiring teenage footballer called Kane Allcock, 15, began experiencing persistent headaches, after he tested positive for COVID-19 around New Years last year.
According to the initial diagnosis, doctors said that the headaches were an after effect of the SARs-CoV-2 virus and prescribed him some pain-relieving medications.
However, the pain only got worse, making him sick and dizzy all the time.
His mother Nicki said, "I knew something wasn’t right. Kane was holding his head and rocking in agony. He couldn’t walk properly."
“They did some blood tests and put him on oxygen and IV pain relief. The message I was getting was that he was still just suffering from migraines.
“But when we were being booked into the assessment ward, I spoke to a nurse who seemed to take us more seriously and I told her I’d noticed a dent at the back of Kane’s head.
“Just two days later, on 19 April, he went into theatre again, this time for a 7.5-hour operation to remove the tumour.
“Thankfully, Kane’s amazing surgeon, Mr Mallucci, managed to remove it all," she added.
03/8Long COVID vs. brain tumour headaches
What seemed like a post-COVID vertigo to many doctors, was infact more serious than the initial diagnosis.
When it comes to long COVID headaches, it may range from moderate to severe pain on both sides of the head. There could be a pressing feeling in the forehead, sides of the head and around the eyes. In simple words, it could feel like tension headaches.
In case of brain tumour, brain cells grow abnormally and create a pressure on and change the function of surrounding brain tissue, which causes signs and symptoms such as headaches, nausea and balance problems, according to the Mayo Clinic. The headaches gradually become more frequent and more severe.
04/8Seizures can be a distinguishing factor
ccording to Nicki, the mother of the 15-year-old teen revealed that her son also suffered from a seizure, which is usually seen in brain tumours. It could range from muscle stiffness to twitching that can spread from the hand or foot and may affect half of the body. One may also find it difficult to speak even if they're fully conscious and aware.
Furthermore, the MRI scans of the teen revealed that he had an acute hydrocephalus along with a large tumour.
05/8What is an acute hydrocephalus?
As per the Mayo Clinic, hydrocephalus is the buildup of fluid in the cavities (ventricles) deep within the brain.
"The excess fluid increases the size of the ventricles and puts pressure on the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid normally flows through the ventricles and bathes the brain and spinal column," the health body explains.
Hydrocephalus associated with a tumour is common in primary pediatric brain tumors, which requires radical tumor resection, temporary external ventricular drainage, and different definite shunting procedures to treat it.
06/8Other signs of brain tumour to watch out for
The Mayo Clinic lists down a number of general signs and symptoms caused by brain tumors. These include:
- Unexplained nausea or vomiting
- Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision
- Gradual loss of sensation or movement in an arm or a leg
- Balancing difficulties
- Speech difficulties
- Extreme fatigue
- Confusion in everyday matters
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Inability to follow simple commands
- Personality or behavioral changes
- Hearing problems
07/8A thorough screening is a must!
Nicki, the mother of the teenager revealed that the tumour was a low-grade (non-cancerous) pilocytic astrocytoma, which is a slow-growing type of primary central nervous system (CNS) tumor.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) classifications of brain tumors, astrocytomas range from grade 1 (most benign) to grade 4 (most malignant). Pilocytic Astrocytoma falls into grade 1 brain tumour classification, which means it is benign and early diagnosis can help treat it in time.
That said, a misdiagnosis can be extremely dangerous. Ensure that you do not ignore persistent symptoms and get a thorough screening.
08/8If you had COVID, watch out for these tell-tale long COVID symptoms
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with post-COVID conditions can have a wide range of symptoms that can last more than four weeks or even months after infection.
These include: fatigue, post-exertional malaise, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations).
Furthermore, one may continue to experience difficulty in thinking, headache, sleep issues, pins and needles and depression.