Intracranial pressure is the pressure that occurs inside your skull. It's basically pressure within the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and brain tissue. Normally, your body uses various methods to keep your intracranial pressure stabilized. However, increased intracranial pressure can result from or be caused by brain injury. Increased intracranial pressure is a serious medical condition, so it's important to know the causes, symptoms and treatment.
A rise in intracranial pressure can damage the spinal cord or brain. The increased pressure can restrict blood flow into your brain or press on portions of the brain. Increased intracranial pressure can be caused by a number of conditions including, but not limited to, aneurysm, subarachnoid hemorrhage, brain tumor, severe head injury, stroke, hypertensive brain hemorrhage, increased brain fluid, subdural hematoma (bleeding), meningitis, status epilepticus (form of epilepsy).
The symptoms of increased intracranial pressure differ depending on whether you are a child or adult. In children, drowsiness, vomiting, bulging in the soft spot on the head and separated sutures are a commonly seen. In adults, symptoms may be headache, vomiting, lethargy, seizure, decreased consciousness, neurological issues and behavioral changes.
In order to diagnose intracranial pressure, your doctor will analyze your symptoms such as headache and neurological problems. To confirm the diagnosis as well as determine the cause a CT scan or MRI will be performed. In other cases, your increased intracranial pressure will be measured through a lumbar puncture or spinal tap.
A rapid increase in intracranial pressure is a medical emergency and is usually treated at a hospital. Treatment of a rise in intracranial pressure includes draining of cerebrospinal fluid and medications to reduce swelling. Patients who need help breathing will be given breathing support. In rare cases, removal of part of the skull is deemed necessary. The cause of the increase in intracranial pressure, such as hemorrhage or tumor will be diagnosed and treated.