The term hydrocephalus literally means water in the brain, which is a medical condition which is characterized by abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the cavities of the brain. The condition often leads to increased intracranial pressure, which in turn may result in progressive brain enlargement, mental disability and convulsions.
Hydrocephalus may be congenital or acquired, with estimates from National Institute of Health indicating that there are currently 0.7 million people living with the condition.
Causes of Acquired Hydrocephalus
Acquired hydrocephalus can affect adults due to a wide range of conditions. The causes of acquired hydrocephalus include infections, meningitis, brain tumors, intracranial hemorrhage, head injury, etc.
Acquired Hydrocephalus in Adults
Though pediatric hydrocephalus is more common compared to acquired condition, the incidence of acquired hydrocephalus is on the rise.
The symptoms associated with the condition include,
- Irritability associated with sleeping and excessive vomiting due to increased pressure on the brain
- Convulsions and seizures are often the first manifestations associated with the condition
- Excessive sleepiness is also observed in patients with hydrocephalus
- Eyes gazing downwards are a common manifestation of the condition which is often referred to as ‘Sundowning’.
Acquired Hydrocephalus Prognosis
The prognosis is difficult to predict, however studies indicate a strong relation between the cause and the prognosis. Untreated hydrocephalus is associated with progressive aggravation of the condition and subsequent death; on the other hand treated cases have a relatively longer life span, but are often associated with poor quality of life, depending upon the severity of the condition.