What is Hydrocephalus?

The brain is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid; it removes waste products from the brain, protects the brain from damage, and supplies nutrients to the brain for proper functioning. Although the cerebrospinal fluid has essential functions, too much of it results in pressure which can damage brain tissue and affect various brain functions. The build-up or accumulation of excess cerebrospinal fluid in the cavities within the brain is called hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus Oxnard occurs mainly among infants and adults over 60 years, but it can happen at any age.

Symptoms of hydrocephalus

The symptoms of hydrocephalus vary depending on the age of onset. The following are different types of hydrocephalus and their signs and symptoms.

Congenital hydrocephalus

This type of hydrocephalus is present at birth when a baby is born with excess cerebrospinal fluid. It can be due to spina bifida or an infection affecting the mother during pregnancy, such as rubella and mumps. Most babies with congenital hydrocephalus suffer permanent brain damage; other signs of hydrocephalus in infants include a big head, rapid increase in head size, and fontanel at the top of the head.

Besides changes in the head, other physical signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus in infants include:

  • Poor eating
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Weak muscles
  • Eyes fixed downwards

In the long term, congenital hydrocephalus may cause learning disabilities, memory problems, speech problems, vision problems, epilepsy, and problems with physical coordination and organizational skills.

Acquired hydrocephalus

Acquired hydrocephalus develops after birth; it may result from an injury or illness. For example, a complication from a medical condition such as a brain tumor or a severe head injury may cause hydrocephalus. Children or adults with acquired hydrocephalus may have signs and symptoms such as:

  • Loss of coordination or balance
  • Headache
  • Sluggishness
  • Vision problems
  • Memory and concentration problems; may affect job performance.

Normal-pressure hydrocephalus

Normal-pressure hydrocephalus most often affects older adults above 60 years; it is a rare and poorly understood condition. The cause of normal pressure hydrocephalus remains unclear, but it can develop after a stroke or an injury. Older adults with hydrocephalus mainly exhibit dementia, urinary incontinence, and mobility problems. Diagnosing normal pressure hydrocephalus can be difficult because symptoms develop gradually and are similar to common conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Diagnosing hydrocephalus

Specialists use imaging tests such as Computed Tomography (CT scans) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI scans) to diagnose congenital and acquired hydrocephalus. For patients with normal pressure hydrocephalus, a checklist can help rule out other possible conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Specialists usually assess your walking, mental ability, and bladder control symptoms.

Treatment of hydrocephalus

Surgery can help restore and maintain normal cerebrospinal fluid levels in the brain; the procedure involves implanting a thin tube into the brain to drain away excess fluid. Less invasive procedures such as endoscopic third ventriculostomy can be an alternative to shunt surgery. The surgeon makes a hole to drain excess liquid to the surface for absorption for this procedure. After surgery, your specialist may recommend different therapies to help you manage symptoms.

Consult your specialist at Link Neuroscience Institute to learn more about hydrocephalus.