Hydrocephalus is a condition caused by the buildup of too much cerebrospinal fluid within the brain. While there is no known cure for hydrocephalus, treatment options such as surgery, medications, and other interventions can help manage and improve symptoms and potentially reduce flare-ups.
What is Hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus is a medical condition in which too much cerebrospinal fluid builds up within the skull, resulting in increased pressure on the brain. When left untreated it can lead to severe problems including developmental delays, cognitive impairment, and physical disabilities. While many cases are congenital and involve abnormalities in the flow or absorption of cerebrospinal fluid, hydrocephalus can develop throughout life due to injury or cerebral aneurysms as well.
Diagnosis and Symptoms of Hydrocephalus.
Early diagnosis of hydrocephalus is essential as it allows for treatment and management of symptoms. Common signs and symptoms are headaches, vomiting, delayed motor skills, blurred vision, intermittent sleepiness or fatigue, enlarged soft spot (in babies), irritability, lack of coordination, and unusually shaped head. Diagnosis may involve neurological exams, CT scans, lumbar puncture tests (LP), and other imaging techniques such as MRI to determine the severity of the condition.
Treatment Options for Hydrocephalus.
Hydrocephalus can be treated with a shunt system which consists of two parts: a reservoir and a catheter. The reservoir is implanted and attached to a catheter (a tube) that carries the excess cerebrospinal fluid away from the brain and drains it in another area of the body such as the abdomen. The shunt system is used to maintain proper fluid levels in the brain and prevent ventricular enlargement or damage caused by high CSF pressure. Medications have also been approved to treat certain types of hydrocephalus in adults; however, they are usually less effective than surgical procedures.
Alternative Treatments for Hydrocephalus
Even though hydrocephalus is most often treated with a shunt system, there are other options available. Ultrasound-based treatments including ultrasound pulse waves and low-frequency Sono thrombolysis are being used to break down scar tissue so that the CSF can flow more freely through the brain ventricles. Treatment methods such as endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) and choroid plexus cauterization (CPC) can be used in some cases of hydrocephalus when the cause of increased fluid production is known. Physical therapy and occupational therapy may also be helpful in treating the long-term effects of hydrocephalus, such as impaired vision, balance issues, and motor coordination problems.
Living With and Managing Hydrocephalus
Although there is no cure for hydrocephalus, it can be managed and treated in order to reduce or even eliminate symptoms. As a result, many people with hydrocephalus lead active and fulfilling lives. It's important to work closely with your doctor and follow their treatment plan in order to keep your condition under control. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as good nutrition, regular physical activity, and stress management can also help you manage the condition.