The build up of fluid in the cavities deep within the brain is called Hydrocephalus. The excess fluid causes increase in the size of the cavities (ventricles) and puts pressure on the brain. Due to these characteristics, the condition is also known as “water on the brain”. As a result of this, following symptoms can be seen in the patient:

  • Progressive enlargement of the head
  • Convulsion
  • Mental disability and
  • Tunnel vision


Hydrocephalus can even cause death in certain severe cases. It is seen commonly among infants and may also affect older adults.

The symptoms can vary according to the age of the patient. Symptoms and signs seen in infants are:

  • An unusual large head
  • Vomiting
  • Sleepiness
  • Poor feeding
  • Seizures
  • A rapid increase in the size of the head
  • Irritability
  • Deficits in muscle tone and strength, responsiveness to touch and expected growth
  • A bulging or tense soft spot on the top of the head etc

Symptoms in toddlers and older children will be different from that of in the infants.

They are:

  • Abnormal enlargement of a toddler’s head
  • Fever
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Delays in walking or talking
  • Headache
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Sleepiness
  • Seizure
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor appetite
  • Problems with attention
  • Change in personality

For the diagnosis, the doctor may first study your medical history and then conduct certain physical examination and tests. He/she may also conduct a neurological exam depending upon the age of the patient. Other brain imaging tests will also be conducted in order to diagnose the issue. Tests may include ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging, and CT scan.

There are two specific neurosurgical treatments for hydrocephalus;shunt and ventriculostomy. Shunt is one of the very common treatments for hydrocephalus. Through the shunt treatment, a drainage system called shunt will be surgically inserted. Shunt will have a long, flexible tube with a valve which will help in keeping the fluid from the brain flowing in the right direction and at the appropriate rate.