Where Do I Start?
Being told you or a family member has hydrocephalus can be quite frightening. At this office we hope to help you understand the basics of hydrocephalus and what common options can be done about it. Here there is no rush, no appointment necessary. Just come in, click on the various options and understand the problem. Take as much time as you like. Review each section as many times as you like. So please, come on in. Let's discuss what to expect with your referral to the physician's office.
Please... Have A Seat. Common Complaints...
People who develop hydrocephalus have common signs and symptoms. Signs are objective findings such as a large head or a wide base gait. Symptoms are descriptive processes such as headache, nausea. People with different types or degrees of hydrocephalus have different types and degrees of associated symptoms. Now that you are here, let's discuss signs and symptoms you or the patient may be having.
When there is too much fluid in the ventricular system, it dilates and can squeeze the surrounding brain tissue. Distorting this brain tissue can result in neurological signs and symptoms. This is hydrocephalus. (See What is Hydrocephalus?) Headache, nausea, vomiting are very common complaints of hydrocephalus in older children and adults. This is understandable: the skull is a closed space. With fluid increasing in a closed space, pressure increases. This leads to symptoms of headaches, nausea, vomiting. With increased pressure in the head, there are changes in the retina of the eyes resulting in a sign called papilledema. Infants are a little different in that the skull is not fused as yet; therefore, the volume increases and the infant's head becomes enlarged.
Other associated complaints include poor memory, confusion, sleeping more and more. Sometimes this increased fluid process can advance rapidly and the patient becomes very ill very fast due to increased pressure on the brain. When this happens, the patient needs to be taken to the emergency room (Emergency Room) right away. A particular triad of symptoms is seen in older individuals in a syndrome called Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (see Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus). There is a triad of memory dysfunction, ataxic gait and urinary incontinence.
After obtaining the medical history, we will examine you by performing a neurologic exam. This includes looking at your eyes, checking your strength,balance, gait,sensation, mental status changes. Usually we will obtain some radiologic studies if they have not already been done and see whether you belong to one of the major hydrocephalus types listed under Hydrocephalus: Some Types and Causes on the home page Hydrocephalus Home Page.