APEX Brain Centers

Brain Inflammation Causes and Treatments

Does your brain feel like it's on fire? Brain inflammation causes and treatments.

If you've ever felt like your brain is on fire, you're not alone. Burning brain is a condition where the brain is inflamed and often leads to reduced brain functions. The most common symptoms of brain inflammation are brain fog, forgetting things, and having trouble focusing.

While most brain inflammation is not a life-threatening condition, chronic inflammation can be very frustrating to deal with as brain function is typically reduced. There are many possible causes, including autoimmune conditions, viral infection, and spinal cord injuries.

What is brain inflammation?

It's a condition where the brain becomes inflamed and can cause a burning feeling in the brain. This burning sensation is often accompanied by brain fog, which can make it difficult to think clearly or focus. Other symptoms include fatigue, headaches, and dizziness. While these symptoms can be extremely debilitating, there are options available that can help reduce inflammation and improve brain function.

There are a few things that can cause brain inflammation. One is an infection. Another is an autoimmune disease or a weakened immune system, where the body attacks itself. And lastly, it can be caused by a traumatic injury or chronic mechanical tension of brain tissue.

What's brain fog?

If you're feeling forgetful, confused, and lacking in focus, you may be experiencing brain fog. It's one of the most common symptoms of brain inflammation, making it difficult for neurons to communicate with each other and leading to a slowdown in brain function.

When your brain cells don't communicate well with each other, it can cause symptoms like confusion, forgetfulness, and a lack of focus and mental clarity. When neurons in the brain cannot communicate efficiently, it's common to experience reduced brain function, memory loss, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and even hearing loss.

Brain fog can be a serious condition if not properly treated. However, most people can experience a full recovery from the most common symptoms provided they receive a timely diagnosis that identifies the primary cause of the medical conditions and they seek care right away.

What causes brain inflammation?

There are many potential causes, and some of the most common are:

Autoimmune disorders

Autoimmune disorders happen when your body attacks itself. This can happen for various reasons, but it often happens because something triggers your immune system to act differently than it normally would. Chronic brain inflammation is a common symptom of autoimmune disorders that affects brain tissue, specifically the brain's immune cells.


Infections are one of the most common causes of brain inflammation. This is because infections often lead to inflammation. Viral infections, bacteria, and parasites can all cause infections that lead to brain inflammation.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

TBI is a leading cause of brain inflammation. TBI can happen from a blow to the head or from a sudden jolt to the head. Concussions are a type of TBI. TBI can cause a wide range of problems, including:

- physical problems

- cognitive problems

- emotional problems

- social problems

TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe. It can happen to anyone at any age.

Additionally, several other factors can lead to brain inflammation including a decrease in immune cells, increased stress levels, depression, anxiety, seizures, dementia, reduced sleep, and certain medications.

How to treat brain inflammation?

medical professional using medical testing to diagnose brain inflammation

The good news is that most cases of brain inflammation can be treated and brain function restored if you take action quickly.

If it's due to an infection, you'll likely need antibiotics or other medications. If it's from an autoimmune disease, you may need medication to suppress the immune system. And if it's from a traumatic injury, neurological rehabilitation is often needed.

If you think you have brain inflammation, it's important not to ignore it. Seek the help of a doctor who specializes in diagnosing the signs of brain inflammation, identifying the underlying cause, and prescribing personalized care designed to accelerate the healing process.

Recent advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of brain inflammation include these other therapies.

Functional Neurology

Functional neurology can successfully treat brain inflammation. It's a discipline of medicine that uses the nervous system to treat conditions like brain fog. This treatment is based on the understanding that the brain can be rewired to improve symptoms and a patient's overall cognitive function.

Another example of functional neurology helping patients with brain inflammation is by stimulating the autonomic nervous system to improve blood flow to the brain.

Brain Imaging

Display showing qEEG brain image

Another alternative treatment pathway is to utilize brain imaging approaches such as qEEG to assist in diagnosing the source of the problem. qEEG, or quantitative electroencephalography, is a brain mapping technique that measures and records electrical activity in the brain. This information can be used to identify areas of the brain that are not functioning properly. Once the underlying cause is discovered, it can be addressed accordingly.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a treatment that involves breathing oxygen in a chamber with increased atmospheric pressure. HBOT can be an effective treatment for brain inflammation by reducing inflammation and promoting healing.

Cold Laser Therapy

Cold laser therapy is a treatment that uses low-level lasers or light-emitting diodes to stimulate healing. This therapy is proven to help reduce inflammation and promote healing by increasing blood flow.

During cold laser therapy treatments, a low-level laser is directed at the area of your body that needs to heal. Cold laser therapy is generally painless and you may feel a warm or tingling sensation during the treatment.


Neurofeedback is a sophisticated form of biofeedback that uses real-time brainwave monitoring to help people learn to self-regulate their brains. Backed by decades of scientific research, neurofeedback is a safe, non-invasive method that can help people of all ages improve brain health.

Brain Health Nutrition

There is some evidence that certain nutrients can help reduce brain inflammation. These include omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin (a component of turmeric), and green tea. Adding these nutrients to your diet, especially sufficient essential fatty acids may help reduce symptoms.

Several brain health supplements can help improve brain function, reduce chronic inflammation, and boost immune cells.

Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in your brain, and this damage can lead to inflammation. Controlling your blood sugar levels by eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your brain health.

Active Meditation

Meditation can be an effective treatment for brain inflammation. Meditation is a practice that involves focusing on your breath and clearing your mind of thoughts. This can help reduce chronic stress and promote relaxation. Meditation can help reduce inflammation in the body.


Yoga can be beneficial in reducing inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. In one study, participants who did yoga for 12 weeks had significantly lower levels of inflammation markers than those who didn't do yoga.

Reducing Stress

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to treating brain inflammation, but reducing stress is a good place to start. Stress can worsen the symptoms of brain inflammation and chronic stress is one of the contributing factors to depression, so finding ways to relax and de-stress can be helpful. Some simple things that may help include, taking breaks throughout the day to relax, practicing meditation or mindfulness, and exercising regularly.

How to prevent brain inflammation?

The good news is that brain inflammation is preventable. There are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of developing brain inflammation:

Get regular exercise

Exercise can reduce inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain. It also helps to reduce stress and improve mood, and even moderate exercise can have a positive impact, so aim for 30 minutes per day.

Eat a healthy diet

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation. Foods like salmon, mackerel, tuna, walnuts, and flaxseeds are all excellent sources of sufficient essential fatty acids like omega-3s.

Avoid smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for brain inflammation, which can lead to conditions such as Dementia and Alzheimer's disease. While the exact mechanisms are not fully known, it is clear that smoking greatly increases the risk of developing these conditions.

Reduce stress

Stress can contribute to inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain. Practicing stress-reduction techniques such as meditation or yoga can help to decrease stress and inflammation.

Get Good Sleep

One of the most important things you can do to prevent brain inflammation is to get enough rest. A good night’s sleep gives your brain a chance to rest and recover from the day’s activities. When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain doesn’t have a chance to recover, and this can lead to inflammation.

To learn more about how to prevent brain inflammation, or if you think you may be at risk, please schedule a free consultation or call us at (828) 708-5274. We'll be happy to chat with you and answer any questions you may have.

Dr. Michael S. Trayford is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Neurofeedback Specialist with over 20 years of experience in the practice of advanced functional neurology. He is one of the most highly sought-after brain rehabilitation specialists because of the life-changing outcomes his patients consistently experience. After over a decade in private practice and working alongside other pioneers in the field, Dr. Trayford developed his multimodal intensive brain training and rehabilitation program built around the science of Neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to learn and grow dependent upon the stimulation it receives from its environment. He later founded APEX Brain Centers to combine his ground-breaking rehabilitation approach with a unique patient and caretaker-centered care model. Under Dr. Trayford’s leadership, APEX Brain Centers has successfully treated thousands of patients and earned the reputation of a world-renowned brain training and rehabilitation practice. Since its inception, Dr. Trayford has been a leader of the Brain Training revolution treating patients worldwide. In addition, he is a published journal contributor and international lecturer. His experience with various patients of all ages and neurological conditions has given him a unique perspective on brain health and human performance. He is also well-versed in collaborating with other health care professionals, making him an invaluable asset to any care team. Dr. Trayford was awarded the Functional Neurologist of the Year distinction by the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation, where he is a proud member and conference lecturer. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Council for the Dementia Society of America and the Board of Directors for the International Society for Neuroregulation and Research. He is also a servant leader who has dedicated his adult life to serving multiple communities through Rotary International and other notable causes. When he’s not treating patients, Dr. Trayford usually reads or researches anything related to the brain, human performance, and leadership. He also loves spending time outdoors with his wife Denise, their two daughters, and dogs in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmichaeltrayford/


  1. Mikela Melan on March 17, 2024 at 6:01 pm

    Doctor I am 53.
    I awake from sleep as my brain feels like it’s self combusting.
    Have you found this to be a common menopausal complaint?
    It’s pretty scary.
    It feels like my brain is being fried. Will the symptom disappear after menopause?

    • DR. MICHAEL S. TRAYFORD on March 20, 2024 at 4:16 pm

      We certainly hear about brain issues related to menopause on a regular basis. Best to have some type of evaluation given your symptoms. Feel free to reach out to us to discuss with one of our doctors – 828.708.5274.

  2. Nayrha on January 4, 2024 at 8:59 am

    I’ve been working with a pcp, neurologist, and neuro ophthalmologist due to an IIH diagnosis w/ papiledmema. After 9 months on Diamox I’ve been considered in remission due to the improvement of my papiledema but I continue to suffer from intense brain fog, memory and speech issues, and a burning brain sensation and a nerve pain that radiates down my left shoulder when my symptoms are heightened. Imaging MRI/V CTs all come back relatively normal and my doctors aren’t doing much else at this point. I’m 38 and afraid of dementia. Do my symptoms still sound like IIH or could it be something else as mentioned in your article?? (With IIH headaches often a symptom which I did experience but not that often my chief complaint has always been cognitive and brain fog)

    • DR. MICHAEL S. TRAYFORD on January 7, 2024 at 3:03 pm

      Best to call us to discuss as there are many possibilities and considerations here that we cannot address in this format. Please call Traci at 828.708.5274 to set up a time to discuss with one of the doctors.

  3. Noelle Dickenson on December 26, 2023 at 5:19 pm

    Encephalitis, not and cephalitis!

  4. Noelle Dickenson on December 26, 2023 at 5:18 pm

    Wow. Just… wow. I believe that I have inflammation in my brain, possibly auto immune and cephalitis? Your article gives me hope that there might be someone who can help I live in Southern California. Can you recommend a physician here? Thank you SO MUCH for publishing this!

    • DR. MICHAEL S. TRAYFORD on December 27, 2023 at 2:29 pm

      Best to call us to speak with one of the doctors – 828.708.5274. We are not aware of anyone in southern CA providing comprehensive care for encephalitis as we do, and have many travel to us for such. Take care.

  5. Rima on November 30, 2023 at 11:44 pm

    Hello Dr Trayford I could identify with your description of brain inflammation – thank you for this. I have an autoimmune condition which is flared by fluorescent lighting. My work have changed my lights to LED now but if I have accidental/ unavoidable exposure to fluorescents I get long periods of recurring aura migraines. The most recent bout has lasted 6 months and has included frequent aura migraines and altered vision including periods of blurred vision. I find that post stress often triggers an aura and magnesium supplements seem to protect from this. Are you aware of why fluorescent lighting is a trigger and have you seen this before? Many thanks in anticipation

    • DR. MICHAEL S. TRAYFORD on December 1, 2023 at 1:25 am

      There is plenty of info on the web about hoe certain lights, including fluorescents, can cause/trigger headaches. That said, there is much that can be done about how your brain processes light/visual input. Best to call us at 828.708.5274 to discuss.

      • Rima on December 2, 2023 at 10:31 am

        Thank you for replying. That is interesting to read. It is good to read a validation that the brain itself is being affected by the light – I experience a lot of gaslighting and disbelief when I explain what happens to me under fluorescents. Will look at your website further. Best wishes

  6. Lisa on October 31, 2023 at 6:00 pm

    Dear sir ,

    I have trouble speaking. Thinking , walking , tremors , finger twitching , brain feels hot , severe ear hissing, eyes moving in thier own , zero emotions , yet intrusive thoughts that are frontal. Let some of head hurts very badly
    I now have looping thoughts and can’t see properly. Numbness in Body. Hands. Tounge.
    I honestly feel very ill

    • DR. MICHAEL S. TRAYFORD on November 1, 2023 at 5:54 pm

      Hello. Best to call us at 828.708.5274 to discuss. There is much to talk about and we are unable to make suggestions without knowing any of your history.

  7. Betty mafuta on February 8, 2023 at 6:53 am

    If MRi nand CT scan will not show if you are bleeding internally after a brain injury , what can you do when still unwell

    • APEX Brain Specialist on February 13, 2023 at 10:25 pm

      So much to consider with history, alternate diagnostic testing, lab work, etc. Best to call us at 828.708.5274 to discuss with one of our providers.

  8. Giuliano Nieri on January 31, 2023 at 4:09 am

    What would be beneficial for Non Pressure Hydrocephalus? A shunt was placed 5 years ago and I have had no problems at all with walking until recently. Now my walking has slowed considerably. It feels like my feet are glued to the ground. Recently had a Cat Scan and consulted with a neurologist. He said scan & shunt are fine, shunt still set at original level as when it was first installed. But my walking has deteriorated. Any thoughts?

    • APEX Brain Specialist on February 13, 2023 at 10:24 pm

      So much to consider with history, diagnostic testing, etc. It may be related to vestibular system, eye movements, etc. Best to call us at 828.708.5274 to discuss with one of our providers.

  9. Filomena on January 12, 2023 at 2:52 pm

    Thank you so much for this enlightening article .
    I have pretty much all the symptoms you describe .
    My symptoms started in June 2022 right contracting COVID . Could this be what we call “ long COVID” ?And would it be a possible cause for my brain to be in a constant burning sensation ? Even Tylenols do not help .
    Who should I get a referral to? A specialized neurologist or other ?
    Thank you so much for getting back to me .
    Have a good day

    • APEX Brain Specialist on January 22, 2023 at 2:02 pm

      Best to call us at 828.708.5274 to discuss with one of our doctors.

    • Jac on May 6, 2023 at 6:02 am

      I have this same condition after receiving the Moderna vax. My brain feels like it’s on fire everyday day for a year now. It is excruciatingly painful.

      • Lori on December 1, 2023 at 8:08 am

        so sorry to hear this do you still have this yet I have been suffering from having covid

    • Sharryn Toms on December 10, 2023 at 10:02 pm

      I’m experiencing chronic brain and body burning all over.
      I’m dying. Loss of sensation the pain is so incredible I just want to die while typing this. MRI, small vessel disease. I reckon c vaccine injury how can you go from perfect
      To that much neurological pain you want out of here.

      • DR. MICHAEL S. TRAYFORD on December 20, 2023 at 1:23 am

        Hello, Please seek help as needed, and call us at 828.708.5274 to discuss. Take care!

  10. Eldah Mtambo on December 10, 2022 at 9:38 pm

    I have head inflammation.

  11. Pam Drake on November 28, 2022 at 5:41 pm

    What type of medical issues would a person be put into Hyperbaric? A few of my family members have been treated in it, and their issues are very different from each other. It’s something I’ve seen great results in other people. I’m riddled with arthritis everywhere with multiple joint surgeries and replacements, with severe Osteoporosis, severe brain fog, unrelentless fatigue, dizziness, and vertigo with migraines, and weakness in arms/legs. It seems to me like it would treat just about anything? It seems like whatever this is, is attacking the structure of my body. Organs seem to be unaffected.

    • APEX Brain Specialist on January 22, 2023 at 2:09 pm

      The conditions are numerous as it works with the most fundamental of physiological functions – blood flow, energy production, oxygenation, etc. Much of what you describe is treated with hyperbaric. The dizziness and vertigo would likely need to be considered separately. Feel free to call us at 828.708.5274 to discuss.

  12. tom on November 14, 2022 at 2:43 am

    will a mri show if I have inflammation in my brain

    • APEX Brain Specialist on January 22, 2023 at 2:06 pm

      Not necessarily. If there was frank/focal fluid accumulation due to a blow to the head or infection, then yes; although generalized inflammation will not be seen in most cases.

      • Rabeea on January 28, 2023 at 4:20 pm

        How can we be sure then it’s brain inflammation?

        • APEX Brain Specialist on February 13, 2023 at 10:23 pm

          So much to consider with history, diagnostic testing, lab work, etc. Best to call us at 828.708.5274 to discuss with one of our providers.

    • David on October 19, 2023 at 2:30 pm

      Is it possible to have encephalitis without neck stiffness, temperature or seizures or double vision.. I have had a headache which came on suddenly at the back of my head after sneezing violently exactly 2 weeks ago. The headache got progressively worse throughout this past 2 weeks- it was non throbbing, not unilateral but an all over internal pressure headache that literally felt like my brain was swelling and about to burst out of my head . It got severely bad on day 8,9 and 10. I should also mention that about 3 weeks before the headache started I had a very severe bout of vomiting and diarrhoea that occurred over 3 weeks in 4 separate nouts of 3 days each. I was diagnosed with suspected gastroenteritis. My headache and pressure feeling is starting to decrease slightly but I am now left with a terrible problem with thinking properly and learning new info already with a strange numb feeling. Is it too late to ask about getting steroids if the headache is now decreasing slightly for the first time. A bit worried I have left this too late and either the sneeze cause a SA heamorrhage or I have had post infectious encephalitis? Grateful for any advice please.

      • DR. MICHAEL S. TRAYFORD on October 20, 2023 at 1:05 am

        Hello, and sorry to hear of your situation. First piece of advice would be to speak with a neurologist as they likely would recommend brain imaging and some lab tests. If symptoms are continuing, you’d also be advised to go to the ER as it may take a while to get in to a neuro specialist. Non-infections encephalitis like auto-immune encephalitis can be without the things you mention in the first sentence. We see quite a bit of this in practice. Feel free to contact us at 828.708.5274 once anything more serious has been ruled out as mentioned above. Take care!

  13. Mnenna miriam oji on November 11, 2022 at 11:28 am

    Thank you….I have gained great knowledge from reading this

    • APEX Brain Specialist on November 11, 2022 at 2:11 pm


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