Hydrocephalus - Describe Your Experience

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What is hydrocephalus?

The term hydrocephalus is derived from the Greek words "hydro" meaning water and "cephalus" meaning head. As the name implies, it is a condition in which the primary characteristic is excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain. Although hydrocephalus was once known as "water on the brain," the "water" is actually cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)--a clear fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The excessive accumulation of CSF results in an abnormal widening of spaces in the brain called ventricles. This widening creates potentially harmful pressure on the tissues of the brain.

The ventricular system is made up of four ventricles connected by narrow passages.. Normally, CSF flows through the ventricles, exits into cisterns (closed spaces that serve as reservoirs) at the base of the brain, bathes the surfaces of the brain and spinal cord, and then reabsorbs into the bloodstream.

CSF has three important life-sustaining functions: 1) to keep the brain tissue buoyant, acting as a cushion or "shock absorber"; 2) to act as the vehicle for delivering nutrients to the brain and removing waste; and 3) to flow between the cranium and spine and compensate for changes in intracranial blood volume (the amount of blood within the brain).

The balance between production and absorption of CSF is critically important. Because CSF is made continuously, medical conditions that block its normal flow or absorption will result in an over-accumulation of CSF. The resulting pressure of the fluid against brain tissue is what causes hydrocephalus.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: A.P., 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 27

I had my first CAT scan at the age of 16, due to no period (all other tests were exhausted). Hydrocephalus was diagnosed. There were no other symptoms. At age 18 I suffered memory problems and had a suicide attempt. Immediately after, I had my 1st surgery. I have 2 children and lead a normal life now. A car accident at age 22 resulted in 2nd blockage and surgery. I am now 45. I have memory problems, but don't know if this is due to the shunt.

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Comment from: Kitty22032, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 07

I had strep throat; went to the hospital for severe headache. They did CT and MRI and told me I have hydrocephalus (never had heard of it before they mentioned it). Between 2000 and 2005 I had had concussions and neck injury which I did not address. I made the choice to handle it as an outpatient - having acupuncture, deep tissue massage, craniosacral therapy and following modified Paleo diet (no sugar, no red meat, no carbs). Massage helps but the relief doesn't last. I am having headaches every day, pressure on head and left eye 24/7. I am drowsy and sleepy, lethargic, dizzy and lightheaded; I have a hard time concentrating, just overall feeling listless. I go to the neurologist and neurosurgeon next week.

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