What is subarachnoid hemorrhage?

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Subarachnoid hemorrhage involves bleeding inside the subarachnoid space or space amidst the brain and tissues covering the brain. It is important to note that the subarachnoid space is where the cerebrospinal fluid circulates and responsible for shielding the brain from injury as a cushion. If hemorrhage in this space occurs, it can cause coma, paralysis and even death.

This condition can develop rapidly and often due to head trauma. A vital point for survival is prompt medical attention. Call for emergency assistance right away if individual shows indications of subarachnoid hemorrhage.

What are the indications?

If subarachnoid hemorrhage develops, it causes several symptoms. The main indication is an abrupt, intense headache that is worse at the base of the skull.

If subarachnoid hemorrhage develops, it causes several symptoms. The main indication is an abrupt, intense headache that is worse at the base of the skull.

It can be described as the worst headache the individual has experienced. Some might feel a popping sensation in the head before the hemorrhage starts.

Other symptoms that might arise include:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Numbness all over the body
  • Seizures
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Light sensitivity
  • Diminished vision
  • Rapid deterioration of the alertness level

The indications of subarachnoid hemorrhage can arise abruptly and the individual loses consciousness rapidly. It is vital to seek emergency care right away if any of these symptoms occur along with a severe headache.

Risk factors

Subarachnoid hemorrhage can develop in any individual and some are even born with cerebral aneurysms that increases the risk.

Women are more likely than men to develop brain aneurysms which leads to subarachnoid hemorrhage. Using drugs especially methamphetamine and cocaine drastically increases the risk for developing subarachnoid hemorrhage.


Immediate treatment is vital to save the life of the individual and minimize the possibility and extent of brain damage.

Pressure and bleeding might buildup in the brain, resulting to a coma and further brain damage. The pressure should be reduced by medications or a procedure to drain some of the cerebrospinal fluid.

The next step is to determine the cause of the bleeding and treatment must be started since new bleeding from the same aneurysm can occur without treatment. Surgery is also done to close, clip and prevent future bleeding.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on subarachnoid hemorrhage is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the indications of this form of head injury, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Victoria, Surrey, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Red Deer, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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