What is idiopathic intracranial hypertension?

Intracranial hypertension is a condition due to high pressure within the spaces that surround the brain and spinal cord. These spaces are filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which cushions the brain from mechanical injury, provides nourishment, and carries away waste.The most common symptoms of intracranial hypertension are headaches and visual loss, including blind spots, poor peripheral (side) vision, double vision, and short temporary episodes of blindness. Many patients experience permanent vision loss. Other common symptoms include pulsatile tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and neck and shoulder pain.

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Intracranial hypertension can be either acute or chronic. In chronic intracranial hypertension, the increased CSF pressure can cause swelling and damage to the optic nerve — a condition called papilledema.

Chronic intracranial hypertension can be caused by many conditions including certain drugs such as tetracycline, a blood clot in the brain, excessive intake of vitamin A, or brain tumor. It can also occur without a detectable cause. This is idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH).

Because the symptoms of IIH can resemble those of a brain tumor, it is sometimes known by the older name pseudotumor cerebri, which means “false brain tumor.”.READ MORE