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Hydrocephalus: Types, Causes, and Risk Factors



Hydrocephalus: Types, Causes, and Risk Factors

The cerebrospinal fluid is vital for brain function, but too much of it increases the size of the ventricles and puts pressure on the brain; this buildup of cerebrospinal fluid is called hydrocephalus. Normally, cerebrospinal fluid flows through the ventricles and bathes the brain and spinal column. The pressure of excess cerebrospinal fluid associated with Hydrocephalus Oxnard can result in brain damage and cause brain function problems. Although hydrocephalus can happen at any age, it is more frequent in infants and older adults 60 years and above.  

Advanced brain surgery can help restore and maintain normal cerebrospinal fluid levels in the brain. There are also various therapies to manage symptoms or problems resulting from hydrocephalus. Read on to learn more about hydrocephalus.

Types of hydrocephalus

Congenital hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus can be present from birth when a baby is born with excess fluid in the brain. It can result from an infection the mother develops during pregnancy, such as mumps or rubella. Conditions like spina bifida can also cause congenital hydrocephalus. Many babies with congenital hydrocephalus suffer brain damage; this can cause long-term complications such as:

  • Speech problems
  • Short attention span
  • Memory problems
  • Vision problems
  • Problems with physical coordination
  • Learning disabilities
  • Epilepsy

Children with learning disabilities need extra support from their nursery or school due to their special needs.

Acquired hydrocephalus

Acquired hydrocephalus develops after birth, often after an illness or injury. For example, it can occur as a complication of a medical problem like a brain tumor or after a serious head injury. Acquired hydrocephalus can affect anyone, including children and adults.

Normal pressure hydrocephalus

Normal pressure hydrocephalus is a rare and poorly understood problem that often affects older adults. Most of the time, the cause of normal pressure hydrocephalus is unknown, but it can sometimes develop after an injury or stroke. The symptoms of NPH develop gradually and are similar to those of more common conditions like Alzheimer’s. As such, normal pressure hydrocephalus can be difficult to diagnose. The main symptoms of NPH include dementia, urinary incontinence, and mobility problems.

What causes hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus develops when the amount of cerebrospinal fluid produced is more than the amount absorbed into the bloodstream. The tissues lining the brain’s ventricles produce cerebrospinal fluid, which flows through the ventricles through interconnecting channels. It then flows into the spaces around the brain and spinal column and is absorbed primarily by blood vessels in tissues on the brain surface.

Cerebrospinal fluid plays a vital role in brain function by:

  • Eliminating waste products of the brain’s metabolism
  • Cushioning the brain to prevent injury
  • Maintaining buoyancy; the fluid allows the heavy brain to float within the skull
  • Keeping a constant pressure within the brain by flowing back and forth between the brain cavity and spinal column

Risk factors for hydrocephalus

In many cases, hydrocephalus has no known causes, but various developmental or medical problems can contribute to this problem. They include:

  • Abnormal development of the central nervous system
  • Infection in the uterus due to rubella or syphilis
  • Bleeding within the ventricles

For further questions about hydrocephalus, consult your provider at Link Neuroscience Institute.