What is hydrocephalus?

According to the Mayo Clinic, hydrocephalus is “the buildup of fluid in the cavities (ventricles) deep within the brain. The excess fluid increases the size of the ventricles and puts pressure on the brain.” The pressure of too much fluid associated with hydrocephalus can damage brain tissues and may cause a range of impairments in the function of the brain. Hydrocephalus frequently occurs among infants and adults 60 and over, but it may occur at any age. The signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus vary somewhat by age of onset. The long-term complications of hydrocephalus can also very widely and are difficult to predict. The severity of complications depends on underlying medical or developmental problems, severity of initial symptoms, and the timeliness of diagnosis and treatment. Hydrocephalus may result in significant intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities in young children. Adults who are diagnosed with hydrocephalus may experience a significant decline in memory or other thinking skills. People with less severe cases of hydrocephalus may have few serious complications.

The cause of hydrocephalus is due to an imbalance between how much cerebrospinal fluid is produced and how much is absorbed in the bloodstream. Excess fluid occurs for one of these three reasons: obstruction, poor absorption, and overproduction. Most of the time, the exact event leading to hydrocephalus is unknown. Surgical treatment may restore and maintain normal fluid levels in the brain. There are many therapies that are often required to manage the symptoms or functional impairments that result from hydrocephalus.

Seek prompt medical attention if you or someone you love is experiencing the signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus. It is important to get a timely diagnosis and appropriate care as more than one condition can result from the problems associated with hydrocephalus.

NARIC’s information specialists searched REHABDATA and found over 70 articles from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere. If you would like more information and resources related to hydrocephalus, please contact NARIC’s information specialists.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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