Hydrocephalus is a serious medical condition in which excess fluid accumulates in the brain and can put pressure on the brain's tissues. Though it can occur at any age, it is most common in infants, and it usually requires treatment to control its symptoms. Learn about hydrocephalus prevalence, life expectancy, and how to live with it.
What Causes Hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus is caused by an imbalance in the production and absorption of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). When CSF production is greater than CSF absorption, it can cause an increase in the size of the ventricles within the brain, leading to hydrocephalus. Other possible causes include head injury, infection, birth defects, or a tumor.
Symptoms of Hydrocephalus.
The most obvious symptom of hydrocephalus is an increase in intracranial pressure, which can cause symptoms such as headaches, blurred vision, and nausea. Other symptoms might include difficulty walking or balancing, cognitive impairments, slow development in children, urinary incontinence, and seizures. It’s important to be aware of these signs and see a doctor if you or someone close to you experiences any of them.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately After Noticeable Symptoms.
If you or someone you know experience any of the common symptoms associated with hydrocephalus, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly reduce long-term health risks and have lasting positive outcomes for the patient. In many cases, doctors can diagnose hydrocephalus with a physical examination or imaging tests such as CT scans or ultrasounds. Treatment options include medication, shunt placement, and surgery.
Beware of Complications From Hydrocephalus.
Hydrocephalus can lead to a variety of complications if left untreated, such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, impaired motor skills, memory problems, and intellectual disabilities. Long-term effects may include bladder incontinence and difficulty with balance. It’s important to be aware of these risks in order to seek medical attention as soon as possible if hydrocephalus is suspected.
Long-Term Outlook for Those With Hydrocephalus.
The long-term outlook for people with hydrocephalus will depend upon the type, severity, and duration of the condition. In many cases, hydrocephalus can be managed through a variety of methods such as medications or some form of assisted device. In cases where the hydrocephalus is treated quickly and effectively, people may see a normal life expectancy with manageable symptoms for many years. However, if the condition goes untreated for too long it may cause permanent damage to the brain.