Some people with a dAVF may not have any symptoms. However, apparent symptoms can be characterized either as aggressive or benign.
Aggressive dAVF symptoms can result either from bleeding in the brain (intracerebral hemorrhage) or from neurological effects of non-hemorrhaging neurological deficits (NHNDs).
Bleeding in the brain often causes sudden onset of a headache with varying degrees of neurological disability related to the location and size of the hemorrhage.
By contrast, an NHND usually develops more gradually, over days to weeks, and typically produces a set of symptoms related to its location. These aggressive symptoms can include seizures, speech or language issues, face pain, dementia, Parkinsonism, coordination issues, burning or prickling sensations, weakness, apathy, failure to thrive, and symptoms related to increased pressure such as headaches, nausea and vomiting.
More benign dAVF symptoms can include both hearing issues (often a bruit behind the ear, also known as pulsatile tinnitus) and vision problems including visual deterioration, eye bulge, swelling in the eye lining, eye-related palsies and cavernous sinus syndrome.
In rare cases, progressive dementia may occur due to venous hypertension.
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with a doctor if you develop any signs or symptoms that seem unusual or that worry you.
Seek medical help immediately if you experience any symptoms of seizure, or symptoms that suggest brain hemorrhage, such as:
- Sudden, severe headache
- Weakness or numbness on one side of the body
- Difficulties in speaking or understanding speech
- Loss of vision
- Double vision
- Balance difficulties