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What is hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus is a condition that affects the brain and how it functions. It can occur at any age but is more common in infants.
A clear, saltwater-like liquid called cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) surrounds the brain. This fluid protects and nourishes the brain. It carries away waste from brain cells and contains important chemicals and nutrients.
Every day the brain produces about a pint of CSF which flows in a continuous circuit through the brain cavities (ventricles) and over the surface of the brain and spinal cord until it is absorbed by the body.
If the flow of CSF is blocked at any point, the fluid cannot drain away and will collect in the ventricles inside the brain. This causes them to swell which causes the surrounding tissue to stretch. This can also mean that the surface of the brain is pressed against the inside of the skull.
In babies and infants, the head will get bigger as the ventricles swell and increase the size of the brain. In older children and adults, the head size cannot increase, as the bones that form the skull are completely fused together.
Hear more about hydrocephalus from Ella
Access to ‘Get inside my head’ granted by kind permission of SHINE.
Links to more information about hydrocephalus
This site provides information about hydrocephalus and how it can affect a person’s life. Many of the people most affected by hydrocephalus have the condition from birth or soon after. For this reason you will find that the Living with Hydrocephalus section discusses many of the issues affecting young people and their families.
The ‘Living with Hydrocephalus’ pages offer hints and tips for families, to help their young people fulfil their potential and grow into happy, confident adults. Many of the strategies discussed can be adapted for use by adults with hydrocephalus who find that they struggle sometimes.
In the Hydrocephalus and the brain section you can read more about how the stretching and pressure caused by hydrocephalus can change the way the brain works. You will also find lots of links from the ‘Living with Hydrocephalus’ pages to show how thinking and behaviour can be affected by changes in the brain.
If you’d like to read more about the hydrocephalus as a condition, click on any of the links below:
- What causes hydrocephalus?
- Are there different types of hydrocephalus?
- How is hydrocephalus treated?
- What is a shunt? / Shunt alert cards