Our brain is filled with cerebospinal fluid which plays a very important role in the functioning of brain. But excess fluid in the brain can be very dangerous. Read on to know more about it.
Our brain is the most tremendous organ of our body. It controls our body and is responsible for every action. For the proper functioning of the brain, a transparent fluid known as cerebrospinal fluid or CSF helps in the transfer of nutrients to different parts of the brain, removes the toxic material and behaves as a cushion to survive shocks and injuries.
Although CSF is very essential for the brain, excess fluid in the brain may result in dangerous consequences. Fluid build up in the brain is also known as ‘water in the brain’ or ‘hydrocephalus’. The fluid is present in the ventricles, excess fluid can put pressure on the ventricles which in turn may even result in death. Find out more about water in the brain in the following paragraphs.
Causes of Hydrocephalus
There are many reasons behind the excess fluid formation in the brain. Some are identified whereas some still left unidentified. Following are some of the causes which are responsible for hydrocephalus.
- Most infants get this problem when they are inside their mother’s womb. This means there is developmental disorder in the baby which may be due to the premature delivery. It may also happen if the mother develops some infection during pregnancy.
- Some diseases like meningitis, brain tumors, etc. contribute to the fluid build up which may be responsible for excess water in the brain.
- Genetic imbalance can also be a reason behind the fluid build up. The best example for this is aqueductal stenosis. This is a condition in which the narrow channel which connects the brain ventricles is blocked and there is no passage for the fluid. This blockage results in the fluid build up.
- Traumatic head or brain injury and subarachnoid hemorrhage can also be responsible for fluid build up.
- Sometimes the brain is unable to absorb CSF properly which increases its volume in the brain and this exerts pressure on the brain tissues.
Symptoms of Water in the Brain
Symptoms of hydrocephalus may be quite prominent if it is since birth but in adults it is noticed quite late. Following are some of the symptoms.
- Unusual and rapid enlargement of head.
- Nausea, vomiting, irritability, sleeplessness, headache, etc are some of the signs.
- You may observe soft bulging spot on the head.
- Eye fixed downwards which is also known as sun setting of the eyes can be observed.
- It may also affect the eyesight as you may get blurred or double vision.
- Memory loss, change in personality, confusions, etc. may also be related to the fluid build up in the brain.
- Infants may observe problem in sucking milk, breathing difficulties, etc.
Treatment for Fluid in the Brain
Treatment for hydrocephalus is mostly conducted by surgeries. There are two most commonly used brain surgeries which are as follows
1. Shunt Placement: Shunt placement is one of the most common treatments for excess fluid. This is an artificial drainage system which consists of a long flexible tube whose one end is placed in one of the ventricles and the other is tunneled into that part of the body which can absorb the CSF well. It also has a valve which helps the fluid to flow in the right direction and at the right rate. This process may need additional surgeries. Though this process is considered effective, it is not 100% safe.
There are few complications which one may face during or after the surgery. Infection, mechanical failure, lengthening or replacement of catheter are some of the complications. Apart from these, shunt problems may also be faced by some patients. Over draining or underdraining of the CSF, both may cause fatal consequences. Hence if the person observes any problems after the surgery it is very important to get a proper check-up to know whether the device is working properly.
2. Ventriculostomy: The next common surgery is known as ventriculostomy. This is used when there is an obstruction in the ventricles of the brain. The surgeon makes a hole in the lower part of the ventricle from where the fluid drains out and reaches the base of the brain where it can be absorbed easily.
Prevention from the fluid build up can help you to get out of this life-threatening disease. Pregnant women should take extra care by getting a regular prenatal checkup, protection from infections, protect baby from injuries, etc. This can help in the child’s proper development. The complications may depend upon the age of the patient. Although hydrocephalus is a complicated situation, it can be cured and many people are able to lead a healthy life after the treatment. So if you observe any such symptom of excess water in the brain then consult a doctor immediately.