What is it?

Pseudotumor cerebri is a condition in which the pressure around the brain increases, causing headaches and vision problems. The name means false brain tumor because its symptoms are similar to those caused by brain tumors. This condition is treatable, but it can return in some cases. The specific cause of this condition is unknown, but it may be associated with having too much cerebrospinal fluid in the skull. This fluid, which protects the brain and spinal cord, is normally absorbed into your bloodstream. Pseudotumor cerebri may occur when this fluid isn’t fully absorbed, which causes it to build up. This leads to increased pressure in the skull. This condition can affect children, men, and older adults but occurs most often in obese women of childbearing age.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH)
- Benign intracranial hypertension
- Benign Intracranial Hypertension

Signs & symptoms

Common symptoms of Pseudotumor cerebri may include:
- Dull headache that starts behind your eyes. These headaches can become worse at night, when you move your eyes, or when you first wake up.
- Vision problems such as seeing flashes of light or having brief episodes of blindness or blurred vision. These problems can become worse as the pressure keeps increasing. If left untreated, this can lead to double vision or permanent vision loss.

Other symptoms may include:
- Ringing the ears
- Pain in the neck, back, or shoulders
- Nausea
- Vomiting
- Dizziness

Diagnosis

For diagnosis of pseudotumor cerebri your doctor will recommend on:
- Eye exam -to check papilledema, which is swelling of the optic nerve at the back of the eye. The increased pressure in the skull will be transmitted to the back of the eye. Your vision will also be tested to see if you have abnormal blind spots.
- Imaging tests- CT or MRI scan of your brain to look for signs of spinal fluid pressure. These scans can also be used to check for other conditions that could be causing your symptoms, such as tumors or blood clots.
- Spinal tap or lumbar puncture, to measure the pressure of the spinal fluid. This involves placing a needle between two bones, or vertebrae, in the back and drawing a fluid sample for testing.

Treatment

The goal of pseudotumor cerebri treatment is to improve symptoms and keep eyesight from worsening.
If you're obese, your doctor might recommend a low-sodium weight-loss diet to help improve your symptoms. You might work with a dietitian to help with your weight-loss goals.

Medications:
- Glaucoma drugs: this medication might reduce the production of cerebrospinal fluid and reduce symptoms.
- Diuretics: reduces fluid retention by increasing urine output.
- Migraine medications to ease the severe headaches that often accompany pseudotumor cerebri.

Surgery: If the vision worsens, surgery to reduce the pressure around the optic nerve or to decrease the intracranial pressure might be necessary.
- Optic nerve sheath fenestration
- Spinal fluid shunt
- Venous sinus stenting

Once you've had pseudotumor cerebri, you'll need to have your vision checked regularly to monitor changes.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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