Should I Go To The Emergency Room?
Hydrocephalus may need to be diagnosed and treated in a time frame that does not allow the patient to wait for an office appointment. The skull is a closed space. When hydrocephalus develops, extra fluid builds up in the brain which takes up space. When there is no longer room for more fluid, the brain can be squeezed. This may lead to serious consequences. Symptoms such as severe headache, nausea and especially vomiting, sleepiness and confusion need to be evaluated quickly. People with different types of hydrocephalus may have variable degrees of associated symptoms. If someone with hydrocephalus has these symptoms or if that person is getting worse with their particular hydrocephalus symptoms, then it is time to go to the emergency room.
When you arrive at the emergency room, be sure to tell them if you have a shunt, that these are the symptoms that you have when your shunt is not working, that you are getting worse. It is best to go to an emergency room where you have had a CT of the brain in the past. That way the medical professionals can compare any old CT scans with a new one which you may have as part of your evaluation. It can be difficult to know what is "normal" for you. Some people normally have large ventricles, some have small ventricles. A baseline for comparison is very helpful. Some patients keep an old CT scan of the brain in their car in case these situations arise. If you have worsening hydrocephalus, you may need an operation to have a shunt placed or your old shunt repaired.