Symptoms of hydrocephalus
The symptoms of hydrocephalus vary with the age of the patient. The reasons lie in the biomechanical properties and changes of the brain and skull with increasing age. An infant has open fontanels which allows the skull to expand as the ventricles grow in size. That is why the head of a hydrocephalus infant may reach very large proportions. Older children (>2 years) show different symptoms because of their closed fontanels. Because of the increase in CSF and the growth of the ventricles, the intracranial pressure increases and the brain is compressed. As a consequence the following symptoms occur: headaches, irritability, sleepiness, delayed development, up gaze restriction ("sunsetting eyes") and vomiting. Headaches are the most common symptom followed by vomiting. Older children often show symptoms of Papilledema, especially if there is sleepiness and diplopia ("double vision"). Due to the massive increase in pressure, irreversible brain damage can occur in both infants and older children.