April 30, 2020
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Hydrocephalus is a condition characterized by the collection of excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the brain’s fluid-containing cavities known as ventricles. This can lead to an increase in pressure within your head, causing severe headaches and other symptoms.
The term “hydrocephalus” is a combination of two terms – ‘hydro’ which means water and ‘cephalus’ which refers to the head. Although the term refers to water, the fluid that collects in the brain is CSF, which is normally found surrounding the spinal cord and brain.
Hydrocephalus can sometimes be a consequence of head injuries, brain tumours and internal bleeding in the brain. Conditions such as meningitis, infections and complications arising from premature birth can also cause hydrocephalus. In rare cases, genetics or developmental disorders such as encephalocele or spina bifida are responsible for the development of hydrocephalus.
Symptoms of hydrocephalus vary from person to person, and people in different age groups display different symptoms. Infants with hydrocephalus show bulging fontanel, thin scalp, prominent veins in the scalp, drowsiness, vomiting, poor appetite, downward deviation of the eyes, seizures and irritability. In children, hydrocephalus causes sleepiness, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, poor appetite, blurred vision, delayed progress in talking or walking, personality changes, poor coordination, seizures, loss of sensory motor function and inability to concentrate.
Hydrocephalus in adults is characterized by headaches, memory loss, shuffling gait and bladder control issues. Older people with hydrocephalus show symptoms such as drowsiness, issues with balance and coordination, bladder control problems, impaired vision, frequent headaches and impaired cognitive skills.
A neurological exam is conducted to determine the severity of the condition. This exam will include ultrasounds, CT scans or MRI scans. Surgery is often the best way to treat hydrocephalus. Your neurologist will determine the best treatment depending on your case.