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Young Mom Ends Up in ICU after Blowing her Nose

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 8:56 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Just in time for Mother’s Day, a young woman was released from the hospital today and allowed to return to her home in Lubbock after the scare of her life. Tamara Contreras was the picture of health until two weeks ago when she suffered a brain bleed ... after blowing her nose. Tamara says, “I blew my nose and then I got this horrible headache. And then I got ringing down my ears, both of my ears. And I immediately thought, I’m having a stroke, like, I’m gonna die.”

Tamara did not want to call 9-1-1. After all, she was just 34 years old, the busy mother of a 3 year old and a 19 year old step-son. She says she went to a clinic the next day and was told the incident was probably a a migraine, which is what she had guessed. But the headaches continued and the pressure got worse. Finally, after 4 days, Tamara went to an Emergency Clinic where a brain scan revealed she had suffered an aneurysm, or bleeding in the brain. The doctors there wanted to call an ambulance. Tamara says she still couldn’t believe it. She said, “Are you sure? I mean, my husband can take me. It’s fine.”

As it turned out, an ambulance was called for Tamara and she was taken to Covenant Health where Dr. Thomas Windisch, a neuro-interventional radiologist, sealed the leaky blood vessel in her brain. Then, she stayed in ICU for 14 days while doctors and nurses watched for any further problems.

Dr. Windisch says Tamara’s case is rare but there are actually a lot of situations can trigger bleeding in the brain. He says, “Illicit drug use, especially meth and cocaine, but moving your bowels and having sex are two other things.” He adds that in Tamara’s case, she probably had a weak spot like a blister on her blood vessel to begin with. He explains, “As the blister gets larger, the tissue becomes thinner. And just like a balloon, it gets to a certain point where it can no longer contain itself and it leaks.” Even though an aneurysm is rare in someone as young as Tamara, Dr. Windisch says the problem can strike at any age, even in children.

The most common risk for a brain aneurysm is high blood pressure. But other factors include smoking, a family history of bleeding in the brain, anyone over age 40, and for some reason, women over 40 face a greater risk than men.

In the story on this page, you can hear more advice from Dr. Windisch and from Tamara on the importance of acting on the first clue that you might be suffering from a leaky blood vessel in the brain.

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