Hydrocephalus vs IIH


Hydrocephalus and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) are two conditions that can have very similar symptoms, however there are some distinct differences in their causes. Hydrocephalus is usually caused by an obstruction of the flow of spinal fluid, most commonly caused by a tumor or cyst in the brain. This disruption of fluid flow can also be caused by infection, trauma, hemorrhage, or a genetic disorder. IIH, on the other hand, is caused by increased pressure within the skull, which can be attributed to an imbalance between the production and absorption of spinal fluid. In the majority of cases, this increased pressure is caused by an underlying disorder such as diabetes or hormonal imbalances, although the exact cause can be unknown. In addition, lifestyle factors have been found to play a role in some cases, including obesity and an inactive lifestyle.


Hydrocephalus and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) are two distinct conditions, but they share similar symptoms. Patients with hydrocephalus may experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and difficulty walking, while those with IIH may experience headaches, visual disturbances, pulsatile tinnitus and cognitive problems. In hydrocephalus, there may also be an increase in the head circumference, whereas in IIH, there may be papilledema, neck/shoulder pain, and a decrease in vision. Both conditions may also cause a person to experience fatigue, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, and depression. While these symptoms can be similar, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis so that the right treatment can be implemented.


Hydrocephalus and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) can often be difficult to differentiate between, as they share many of the same symptoms. Hydrocephalus is typically diagnosed when there is an abnormal increase in the pressure of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the brain. This is primarily done through an MRI scan that looks for an enlarged ventricular area, which is an indicator of the fluid blockage. On the other hand, IIH is diagnosed when high intracranial pressure is determined without an accompanying obstruction in the flow of the CSF. The diagnosis of IIH is this determined using a lumbar puncture to measure the pressure of the CSF in the brain. Furthermore, a CT or MRI scan is also often recommended to look for any potential obstructions blocking the free flow of the CSF. It is important for doctors to be able to differentiate between the two conditions in order to provide accurate and effective treatment.


In order to treat hydrocephalus, nervous system surgery is often required. The purpose of this type of operation is to remove excess fluid buildup or reduce the amount of pressure caused by the presence of excess fluid on the brain. This is done using a shunt, a tube placed in the brain that is connected to the abdomen and drains excess fluid, allowing it to be absorbed back into the body. Surgery can also be used to repair blocked, malfunctioning, or otherwise damaged external plumbing systems. Treatment for idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) may involve medication and lifestyle changes. Possible medications include diuretics to reduce fluid accumulation, muscle relaxants to help improve symptoms such as headaches, oral corticosteroids to help decrease inflammation, and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors to reduce pressure within the skull. Other lifestyle changes that can be beneficial include maintaining a healthy weight, staying hydrated, and limiting caffeine and salt intake. Surgery is an option for the most severe cases, but it is not recommended except when medications and other treatments have failed to work.


When it comes to the long-term health outcomes for hydrocephalus and IIH, there are a few key differences. Here are the major differences between the two conditions:

  1. Hydrocephalus is usually a lifelong condition that requires ongoing medical care and management.
  2. IIH typically resolves itself within a few months with proper treatment.
  3. Hydrocephalus can lead to progressive neurological problems such as hearing loss, cognitive impairment, and paralysis.
  4. IIH typically does not cause any serious long-term health problems.

However, it is important to remember that each individual’s experience with these conditions is unique, and health outcomes can vary greatly. It is important to work closely with a medical professional and follow their advice in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.


Hydrocephalus and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) are medical conditions that can cause a range of symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, and vision impairment. While the two have similar symptoms, they have different underlying causes and require different treatments. It is important to understand the difference between the two conditions from a research perspective in order to ensure that patients are getting the best possible care. Recent research has focused on developing new methods for diagnosis, exploring the underlying genetic roots of the conditions, and investigating various available treatments for both hydrocephalus and IIH. This research is essential for better understanding both conditions and for providing effective, individualized treatments for patients suffering from either one.

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