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Hydrocephalus: "Water on the Brain"

Hydrocephalus is a condition characterized by fluid pressing on the brain. It may also be called "water on the brain," but this is an incorrect term, since it is actually spinal fluid that collects and puts pressure on the brain. This added pressure can cause problems in the way that the brain grows and its ability to function.

More on Hydrocephalus


The symptoms of hydrocephalus can vary. It can be difficult to see them in young children or infants because they may not be able to explain the symptoms.  However sudden swelling or growth of an infant's head is a warning sign, and you should take the child to the doctor immediately.  Other common symptoms include:

Severe headaches
Blurred or double vision
Vomiting
Difficulty walking
Urinary incontinence
Drowsiness

More on Symptoms and Dealing with the Condition


To treat hydrocephalus it is important to relieve the pressure on the brain. This is usually done with a surgery that puts in a shunt to allow the accumulating fluid to drain off the brain. The shunt has risks involved with it, including a chance of infection, as well as the possibility of the shunt closing again. Depending on the cause of the hydrocephalus and the stage of development of the patient, the recovery of each person will be different.

Treatments and Outcomes of the Disease

  • PubMed.gov: Long term prognosis for children with hydrocephalus


If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with hydrocephalus, it may be helpful to join a support group. There are many available to you. This group can allow you to seek advice and support from others in the same situation.

Support Groups

Hydrocephalus can affect many people. It is thought to affect about 1 in 500 children throughout the world. Generally, it happens to young children, although adults can experience hydrocephalus as an adult as a result of an accident, illness or stroke.  Hydrocephalus may be the result of a congenital birth defect. If this is the case it is usually discovered in the routine ultrasound conducted by doctors.





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