Hydrocephalus: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 10/14/2019

Hydrocephalus refers to the presence of an elevated amount of fluid within the brain. The fluid is contained within a network of spaces inside the brain called the ventricles. The excess fluid causes the ventricles to widen and exert pressure on other areas of the brain. Hydrocephalus may be present in babies, children, and adults.

The most characteristic sign of hydrocephalus in children and infants is often a rapid increase in head circumference or an unusually large head size. Other associated symptoms and signs can include

Cause of hydrocephalus

Doctors do not understand the cause of hydrocephalus.

Other hydrocephalus symptoms and signs

  • Abnormality With Walking
  • Blurred Vision
  • Bulging Soft Spot on a Baby's Head
  • Delayed Development in Infants and Children
  • Headache
  • Instability
  • Irritability
  • Memory Loss
  • Mental Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Problems With Coordination
  • Sleepiness
  • Stiff Muscles
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Vomiting


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.