From Hydrocephalus both adults and children can be affected. Dilated chambers of the brain can Water head Impair brain functions. Although a head of water cannot be cured, it can be treated.
Hydrocephalus is a pathological expansion of the liquor-filled fluid spaces (ventricles) in the brain. It is also called water head or cerebral drooping. Click to enlarge.
The clinical picture of Hydrocephalus is popularly known (according to the German translation of the term hydrocephalus) as water head. The symptoms of hydrocephalus are characterized by enlargements of the so-called ventricles of the brain; these ventricles are spaces that are filled with cerebrospinal fluid.
If infants are affected by the head of water, this can appear visually in an enlarged skull. This is due to the fact that the cranial bones of an infant have not yet finally connected and the skull is expanding due to hydrocephalus.
Hydrocephalus can take various forms in those affected. These different shapes differ, for example, in terms of the ventricles affected by an enlargement. Medicine also differentiates between different forms of the disease with regard to the corresponding causes that lead to hydrocephalus.
Possible causes of a Hydrocephalus are diverse. For example, the disease can be caused by the body's own overproduction of cerebrospinal fluid (also known as liquor). A head of water can also be caused by a closure of the connections that exist between the liquor spaces in healthy people.
A distinction is made between congenital and so-called acquired (i.e. not already congenital) causes of hydrocephalus: Congenital causes of a hydrocephalus can include malformations of the brain or skull bones. Various developmental disorders of the brain and genetic defects can also lead to hydrocephalus.
Acquired causes that can cause a head of water are, for example, injuries to the brain from accidents, inflammation of the brain or cerebral haemorrhage. Thromboses in the head area or rhesus intolerance can also be acquired causes of hydrocephalus.
A head of water can initially be recognized by the typical, usually balloon-shaped inflation of the head. The top of the skull appears partially swollen and can be painful when touched. The hair growth is also often disturbed. The increase in pressure in the skull leads to severe headaches, visual disturbances and seizures.
Many children suffer severe epileptic seizures in the first few days of life, which are often heralded by sweating, tremors and generally unusual behavior. The severe pain combined with the disturbance of consciousness lead to nausea and vomiting. The visual disturbances can occur temporarily or persist, with those affected seeing double images or only perceiving the surroundings blurred.
In individual cases, hearing problems can develop up to and including complete deafness of the affected child. In the course of the disease, paralysis and other sensory disorders may develop in the head and other regions of the body. In addition, dizziness, gait disorders and disorders of consciousness occur. Those affected keep losing consciousness or even falling into a coma. If the hydrocephalus is not treated early, irreversible damage to the brain will inevitably occur. In severe cases, the disease is fatal.
To one Water head To diagnose, so-called imaging procedures are usually used. These procedures include, for example, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Which of these methods is particularly suitable for diagnosing hydrocephalus in an affected person depends, among other things, on the assumed cause of a water head or the age of the patient: Ultrasound is particularly suitable for newborns because the skullcap is not yet fully closed.
The course of hydrocephalus depends, among other things, on the form of the disease and the therapeutic measures taken. The courses of hydrocephalus also differ between individuals. Possible initial symptoms of hydrocephalus are headache or nausea. Severe courses can lead to impaired consciousness or a coma. Appropriate therapeutic measures can often lead to a significant improvement in symptoms of hydrocephalus (such as gait disorders or bladder emptying disorders).
The head of water restricts brain functions. These can have a negative impact on the physical as well as the psychological state and significantly reduce the patient's quality of life. The patient's head is bloated from this disease and appears relatively large.
This also increases the pressure in the skull, which can lead to headaches. In many cases, the pain spreads to other regions of the body and can lead to various complaints there too. Those affected also suffer from visual disturbances, which can also lead to blurred vision or double vision. In severe cases, epileptic seizures also occur.
As the disease progresses, paralysis and other disorders of sensitivity occur. The patient's everyday life is severely restricted by the symptoms. Gait disorders also occur and the patients often lose consciousness or fall into a coma.
The treatment is carried out by surgery and usually leads to a positive course of the disease. Complications usually only arise if treatment does not start early and irreversible damage to the brain has occurred.
Since hydrocephalus can negatively affect brain functions, this disease must always be treated by a doctor. There is no self-healing. In most cases, hydrocephalus is diagnosed by a doctor before birth or immediately after birth. A further visit for diagnosis is therefore usually not necessary. Furthermore, a doctor should always be consulted if the child suffers from severe headaches or vomiting. Hydrocephalus can also lead to visual problems in the further course, so that patients suffer from double vision or blurred vision. A medical examination is also very advisable here.
This disease is usually treated by different specialists and depends on the exact nature of the complaint. However, complete cure is not achieved. In many cases, the parents or relatives also suffer from severe psychological complaints, so that psychological treatment is advisable.
A frequently used therapy method for the treatment of Hydrocephalus is the implantation of a shunt: A shunt is a thin tube made of plastic and silicone, which leads brain water from the brain chambers to other parts of the body in the presence of hydrocephalus. For this purpose, the shunt is moved from an affected brain chamber into the abdominal cavity, for example.
The aim of this procedure is to reduce the size of dilated cerebral ventricles. The tube to relieve the symptoms of hydrocephalus is laid under the skin; the implemented measure cannot be seen from the outside. Shunts can be used to treat a water head in both adults and children. Depending on the shape, implanted tubes for the treatment of hydrocephalus can have different valves: These valves react, for example, to high or low pressure in the cerebral chambers.
A therapy for the special lowering of the third cerebral ventricle is the so-called endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV); here the cerebral ventricle wall is provided with a minimal hole. Medicinal therapies for treating a water head are usually only used rarely and for a short time.
After an operation, the disease usually progresses positively. An early diagnosis favors this. It is crucial that there is no lasting damage to the brain. A basic distinction must be made between prognoses for newborns and small children as well as for adults. Hydrocephalus is incurable; however, it can be successfully treated in most cases. This results in a positive outlook for the sick given the current state of medical possibilities.
With timely treatment, children in particular can usually lead a life without any further symptoms. Studies prove the success of the shunt. Two thirds of them can follow the same educational path as healthy peers. Around every tenth child dies. With the others, behavioral problems remain, which result from the limitations of the brain function. These can be minimized with tutoring and special therapies.
The outlook for adults cannot be clearly assessed. For them it depends on how they got the disease. You do not always have to wear a shunt for life. Noticeably many senior citizens fall ill with the water head. With increasing age, there is an increased risk after an operation.
It is hardly possible for one Hydrocephalus to prevent. However, it can have a positive effect on the course of the disease if a water head is diagnosed at an early stage and can be treated accordingly medically. The severity of consequential damage due to the enlarged cerebral chambers in hydrocephalus can be reduced in this way in many cases.
Proper follow-up care is also of great importance in such a low-risk operation as the shunt operation. In particular, if it is a ventriculo-peritoneal lead, the patient must keep food abstinence on the day of the operation. One day after the operation, the patients are mobilized physiotherapy and are allowed to eat and drink normally.
After a few days, the position of the brain catheter and the width of the cerebral chambers are checked by means of a computer tomographic examination. This is to confirm that the procedure has been carried out successfully and brings the desired relief to the patient. The patient can then leave the hospital and return to everyday life.
Annual follow-up checks by means of CT examinations and discussion of the existing symptoms must be observed. They reveal possible postoperative complications such as subdural bleeding from overdrainage and, if necessary, enable rapid treatment.
Patients who have suffered such overdrainage once can discuss the possibility of implanting postoperatively adjustable gravitational valves with the attending physician, which can then be used for the next operation required. Shunt insufficiencies due to a blocked catheter are also possible and require immediate correction.
For the treatment of hydrocephalus, medical therapy is always indicated. The individual symptoms can be alleviated by those affected by a series of self-help measures.
So epileptic seizures can be reduced through preventive measures, for example avoiding possible triggers and using emergency medication helps to avoid seizures. Bed rest and rest help against nausea, vomiting and headaches. In addition, the person affected should adjust their lifestyle to avoid any side effects. If double vision occurs, medical advice is required. As an acute first measure, rest and protection are also an option.
Basically, a head of water must be treated surgically. A recovery period of several weeks is indicated after an operation. The patient should seek regular follow-up visits from the doctor even after treatment is complete. If complications arise, it is best to go to the hospital immediately.
Since hydrocephalus is always a mental burden for those affected, therapeutic advice is useful. Participation in a self-help group can also help those affected to accept the external flaws and any complaints.