Hydrocephalus Signs and Symptoms

November 12, 2012

Hydrocephalus Signs and Symptoms

Hydrocephalus, or “water on brain,” is a buildup of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) inside the skull that leads to swelling of the brain and brain damage. Increased levels of fluid can occur due to a block in the flow of CSF, or excessive production of CSF by brain, or when the fluid is not absorbed back into the bloodstream.

Congenital Hydrocephalus

Congenital hydrocephalus occurs in babies at birth, and can be identified by distinct physical characteristics such as unusually large head and thin scalp with visible veins. The soft spot or the fontanelle on top of your baby’s head may bulge, while the baby’s lower limbs may become stiff. Other hydrocephalus symptoms in babies include the “sun-setting sign” characterized by drooping eyes that resemble the sun setting below the horizon. The condition is common in babies with spinal cord defects and may begin when the baby in still in the mother’s womb. Hydrocephalus symptoms also lead to poor feeding, irritability and drowsiness in the newborns.

Acquired Hydrocephalus

Acquired hydrocephalus symptoms include headaches, neck pain, morning sickness, drowsiness, blurred vision and confusion. The condition may develop in young children or adults due to central nervous system infections and genetic disorders. It can delay the growth in children under the age of 5 years and lead to muscle spasms and loss of bladder control. The condition can also cause excessive sleep and restricted movement. Many children and adults may also experience mood, personality and memory changes as part of their hydrocephalus symptoms.

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

Normal pressure hydrocephalus develops in older adults over the course of many months or years. The tree distinctive normal pressure hydrocephalus symptoms including unsteady walking and increased risk of falling while turning. Frequent urination and loss of bladder control is also found in patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus. The condition may also effect the functioning of your brain and cause delayed processing of information and slow responses. Many patients may confuse these hydrocephalus symptoms with dementia. In fact, many patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus may suffer from mild-dementia, which will improve when the condition is treated.

Treatment depends on the underlying causes and may include antibiotic therapy or invasive procedures such as endoscopic third ventriculostomy and removal of parts of the brain that produce the cerebrospinal fluid. The prognosis depends on the cause as well. Many survivors may suffer from a variety of physical and neurological disabilities.

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