Pseudotumor cerebri happens when intracranial pressure, the pressure inside your brain, increases for no apparent reason. The symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri resemble those of a brain tumor, but no tumor exists. Pseudotumor cerebri most frequently occurs in overweight women of childbearing age. The symptoms of this disorder may also occur in children and adults. When doctors can’t find a cause for this pressure, it might even be referred to as idiopathic intracranial hypertension.
One of the most telling symptoms is an individual can experience swelling in the optic nerve. Some patients with pseudotumor cerebri lose some of their vision. Medication may reduce intracranial pressure, or surgery may be necessary. The symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri include ringing in the ears that pulses with the heartbeat, significant headaches that worsen with moving the eyes, blurred vision, and temporary blindness. No one knows what the exact cause this disorder is, but it may have a link to an excess amount of spinal fluid in the cerebrum in a person’s skull.
Lose Excess Weight
Being obese has been associated with pseudotumor cerebri. Though this condition only occurs in one or two individuals per hundred thousand, overweight women tend to develop the condition at a rate of about four to twenty-one per hundred thousand. Also, women under forty-four are more prone to the disorder. If an individual is overweight, and especially if the obese individual is a young woman, being overweight dramatically increases the chances of developing pseudotumor celebri.
One of the best actions any individual can take to prevent pseudotumor celebri and a plethora of other health problems is to lose weight or to remain at a healthy weight. Even individuals who aren’t clinically obese may have an added risk of this disorder. Losing weight is the proper treatment for pseudotumor celebri that will also help an individual feel better in general. To lose excess weight, eat healthy foods, reduce your consumption of fat and sugar, and get more exercise.
Spinal Fluid Shunt
A spinal fluid shunt can be done to improve and treat pseudotumor cerebri. To receive a spinal fluid shunt, the doctor inserts a shunt, which is a long, thin tube, into the patient's lower spine or brain to drain away spinal fluid. The shunt goes under the patient’s skin to their abdomen, and excess fluids are removed from the brain. Shunts work well in most cases, but in some cases may become clogged and need more surgeries to keep them working the right way. Infections and headaches due to low blood pressure may occur as side effects of the shunt’s placement.
Optic Nerve Sheath Fenestration
Optic nerve sheath fenestration procedures may also be done to preserve the sight of a patient with pseudotumor celebri. During this procedure, a surgeon cuts out a small area that gives them a window into the optic nerve. When this area of membrane is removed, the excess fluid surrounding the optic nerve can drain and relieve pressure. Once the pressure is off the optic nerve, the patient’s vision improves and stabilizes in most cases. In fact, usually, vision improves in both of the patient’s eyes. Unfortunately, this surgery is not always successful, and vision problems may increase.
Ophthalmologic Exams To Monitor Vision
If an individual has diminishing vision they should, of course, see their eye doctor. Everyone should get regular ophthalmologic exams to monitor vision done by a qualified ophthalmologist. This specialist will examine the eyes of the patient to see if they have a specific, distinctive type of swelling in the optic nerve. Papilledema, which is a swelling of the optic nerve, occurs in the back of an individual’s eye. Also, the ophthalmologist can check a patient’s visual field to diagnose whether or not they are experiencing blind spots in their vision. Everyone has a normal blind spot where the optic nerve enters the retina. Papilledema will show up as an additional blind spot.
Treat Vision Issues Revealed During Exams
One of the ways an individual can keep themselves free from vision loss and pseudotumor celebri is to keep track of any vision problems that may occur. Routine vision exams remain the primary way to head off potential vision and eye health issues. Also, to treat any vision issues revealed during exams, follow the instructions the specialist gives. If an individual has noticed an increased number of headaches or migraines, changes in their vision, ringing in their ears or nausea, they should mention these symptoms to their eye care professional. Catching pseudotumor celebri early dramatically increases the chances of successful treatment and continued good vision.