Hydrocephalus is a brain-related condition in which the excess brain fluid – cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) builds up in the cavities of the brain. It increases pressure within the head and causes serious impacts on patients. Hydrocephalus treatment in adults is a more complicated process compared to the commonly-seen condition in toddlers and kids. In this post, you’ll learn about hydrocephalus, its symptoms, and treatments for adult patients.
Hydrocephalus – A more detailed explanation
Hydrocephalus is also described as “water on the brain”. “Water” here refers to CSF, the fluid surrounding our brain and spinal cord that have 3 main functions as below:
- Serve the role as a “shock absorber” for the brain and spinal cord
- Deliver nutrients to the brain and remove wastes
- Flow between the spine and cranium to control changes in pressure within the brain.
On average, a healthy adult produces about one pint of CSF on a daily basis. If there are any changes in the circulation of CSF due to injury or illness, the fluid accumulates. Also for adults, their skull is rigid, so the pressure in the brain can increase significantly.
So, how do adults get hydrocephalus? It is still an open question to scientists although there are many studies and research trying to uncover the mystery.
Hydrocephalus is a chronic condition. It can be managed and controlled, but not completely cured. With appropriate early treatment, many diagnosed people lead normal lives with few limitations. Also, it can occur at any age, most common in infants, toddlers, and adults at the age of 60 and above.
Symptoms of hydrocephalus in adults
For young and middle-aged adults, common symptoms can include:
- Loss of balance, bladder control, or coordination
- A frequent urge to urinate
- Impaired vision
- A decrease in concentration, memory, and other thinking skills
For older adults, hydrocephalus’ symptoms are more severe:
- Memory loss
- Loss of bladder control or a frequent urge to urinate
- A progressive loss of other thinking or reasoning skills
- Difficulty walking, often described as the feeling of the feet being stuck or a shuffling gait
- Poor body’s coordination or balance
Hydrocephalus diagnosis for adults
A diagnosis of hydrocephalus for adults is usually based on:
- Your answers to the questions from the doctor about the current symptoms and signs
- A neurological exam
- A general physical exam
- Brain imaging tests: ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan
Coping with hydrocephalus
Again, with appropriate early treatment, many diagnosed people can lead normal lives with few limitations. having said that, there’s always a need for advocacy and support from the community.
September – the national awareness month is a great time for all of us to join community-driven events. It is when we can challenge ourselves in searching for effective ways to get involved in spreading awareness on this condition. For example, just with inspiring hydrocephalus awareness t-shirts, you can immediately flock to the street and send your love and care to people in need. And the patients can feel much relieved as they are fighting the disease with our emotional and instrumental support.
Hydrocephalus treatment in adults
Treatment with surgery
- Hydrocephalus in adults shunt
The most common approach is the shunt. technically, it is a surgery in which the surgeon inserts a drainage system into your brain. The system here is basically a flexible long tube with a valve that keeps fluid flow at the proper rate and in the right direction.
Adults diagnosed with hydrocephalus usually need the shunt system for the rest of their lives. Also, their healthcare giver will require them to show up in regular monitoring to see if there are any issues or improvements.
- Endoscopic third ventriculostomy
This is a surgical procedure that is suitable for some patients. With this type of treatment, your surgeon uses a small camera lens to have direct vision inside the brain. Then, he’ll create a hole between the ventricles or in the bottom of one of the ventricles to enable CSF to flow out of the brain.
Hydrocephalus treatment without surgery
Hydrocephalus medications may include furosemide (FUR) and Acetazolamide (ACZ). They are diuretics that appear to reduce the CSF secretion at the level of the choroid plexus. However, an important note is that Hydrocephalus treatment medicines are still controversial. You should opt for them as a temporary measure or when shunting surgery is not possible.
Hope with this comprehensive guide, you’ll know more about Hydrocephalus treatment in adults as well as have a brief overview of the condition. If you’re a Hydrocephalus warrior and wish to share your own story, feel free to contact us or just comment below. Your contribution is much appreciated!
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