Hydrocephalus is a condition characterized by an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain, leading to increased pressure. Symptoms can vary depending on the age of the affected individual and the underlying cause of hydrocephalus. Common symptoms include:
- Enlarged Head: The most noticeable sign in infants is an enlarged or rapidly growing head, often accompanied by bulging fontanelles (soft spots).
- Separated Skull Bones: The bones of the skull may feel separated, causing an abnormal “cracked pot” sound when tapped, known as Macewen’s sign.
- Vomiting and Irritability: Infants may experience vomiting, irritability, or feeding difficulties.
- Children and Adults:
- Headache: Individuals of all ages may experience headaches, typically worse in the morning.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Nausea and vomiting can occur due to increased intracranial pressure.
- Vision Changes: Hydrocephalus may affect the optic nerves, leading to visual disturbances or changes in vision.
- Balance and Coordination Issues: Difficulty with balance, coordination, and walking may occur.
- Cognitive Impairment: In adults, hydrocephalus can lead to cognitive decline, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating.
- Bladder Control Issues: Some individuals may experience urinary incontinence or other bladder control problems.
It’s crucial to note that symptoms can vary, and the progression of hydrocephalus may lead to additional complications if left untreated. Hydrocephalus can be congenital or acquired due to conditions such as infections, tumors, or bleeding in the brain.
If hydrocephalus is suspected, a healthcare professional will typically conduct imaging studies, such as CT scans or MRI, to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment may involve surgical interventions, such as the placement of a shunt to redirect excess fluid or endoscopic procedures to create alternative pathways for fluid drainage. Early diagnosis and intervention are essential in managing hydrocephalus and preventing complications. If you or someone you know exhibits symptoms of hydrocephalus, seek medical attention promptly.