Is pseudotumor cerebri serious?
Pseudotumor cerebri is a medical condition that causes increased pressure inside the skull (intracranial pressure). This is due to increased fluid accumulation inside the skull. This fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is produced inside the brain cavities and lubricates the coverings of the brain. Either increased CSF production or reduced absorption can cause CSF to accumulate. Pseudotumor cerebri can cause serious and permanent complications if left untreated. It can cause progressive and permanent loss of vision. Thus, people with pseudotumor cerebri must go for regular eye exams and checkups so that eye problems are diagnosed and treated before they progress.
What is pseudotumor cerebri?
The term pseudotumor cerebri means a false brain tumor because several symptoms of this condition mimic a brain tumor. It occurs in certain susceptible individuals who are on medications to treat cancer or even acne. It is a medical condition in which there is increased pressure inside the skull due to buildup or reduced absorption of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF, the fluid present inside the skull). Pseudotumor cerebri is also called idiopathic intracranial hypertension because there is no obvious cause of increased intracranial pressure in this condition. It causes symptoms such as headache and loss of vision that get worse with time. Pseudotumor cerebri can affect anyone. However, it is most common in women between 20 and 50 years of age.
Depending on the onset and duration of symptoms, pseudotumor cerebri can be one of two types
What are the symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri?
The symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri often mimic those of a brain tumor. The signs and symptoms include
- Blurred vision
- Diplopia (double vision)
- Loss of vision
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Neck stiffness
- Difficulty walking
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
Can pseudotumor cerebri be cured?
Pseudotumor cerebri can be treated by medications and surgery. The condition, however, may recur in some people despite treatment. Therefore, regular checkups by the doctor are important to help monitor symptoms and screen for any underlying problems.
Treatment options may vary depending on several factors such as the presence of any underlying conditions and severity of signs and symptoms. Treatment for pseudotumor cerebri can include
- Weight loss may be needed in individuals who are obese or overweight through lifestyle changes or surgery.
- Limiting the intake of fluids or salt is recommended.
- Surgical options to reduce intracranial pressure, such as therapeutic shunting that involves surgical placement of a shunt (a special kind of tube) to drain cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the lower spine into the abdomen, may be needed. This will remove excess CSF and relieve the intracranial pressure.
- A spinal tap or removal of excess fluid through a lumbar puncture may be done to reduce the pressure.
- Medications may be given to reduce fluid buildup and CSF pressure. These include diuretics that will help remove excess fluid from the body.
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