Factors such as age and how far the disease has progressed will affect the hydrocephalus symptoms a person experiences. Common symptoms include progressive mental impairment, double vision, and dementia. Signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus are similar to symptoms of other conditions, so anyone who is experiencing possible symptoms should see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Hydrocephalus symptoms vary with age, disease progression, and a person's tolerance to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). For example, an infant's ability to tolerate CSF pressure differs from an adult's. The infant skull can expand to accommodate the buildup of CSF because the sutures (the fibrous joints that connect the bones of the skull) have not yet closed.
In infancy, the most obvious symptom is often the rapid increase in head circumference or an unusually large head size.
Other hydrocephalus symptoms in infants may include:
- Downward shift of the eyes (also called "sunsetting")
Older children and adults may experience different symptoms of hydrocephalus because their skulls cannot expand to deal with the buildup of CSF. In these people, symptoms may include:
- Headache followed by vomiting
- Papilledema (swelling of the optic disk, which is part of the optic nerve)
- Blurred vision
- Diplopia (double vision)
- Sunsetting of the eyes
- Problems with balance
- Poor coordination
- Gait disturbance
- Urinary incontinence
- Slowing down or loss of development
- Other changes in personality or cognition, including memory loss.