Fact: Hydrocephalus affects about 1 in every 500 children

What is Hydrocaphalus?

Hydrocephalus is a condition where there is excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain. Hydrocephalus was known as "water on the brain." The terminology, "water" was in reference to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).  CSF is a clear fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. When there is a build up of CSF, it results in an abnormal widening of spaces in the brain called ventricles. This widening creates potentially harmful pressure on the tissues of the brain.

Hydrocephalus is a chronic condition. It can be controlled, but usually not cured. With appropriate early treatment, however, many people with hydrocephalus lead normal lives with few limitations.

How is hydrocephalus diagnosed?

The most common ways for diagnosing hydrocephalus are the CT (computerized tomographic) scans and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). They can accurately measure the size of the fluid spaces, or ventricles, within the skull. 

In special circumstances, a variety of other tests may be used


Symptoms of hydrocephalus vary with age, disease progression, and individual differences in tolerance to CSF. 


  • Rapid increase in head circumference or an unusually large sized head

In older children and adults: 

  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Papilledema 
  • Downward deviation of the eyes 
  • Problems with balance 
  • Poor coordination
  • Gait disturbance
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Slowing or loss of development (in children) Lethargy
  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Changes in personality or cognition
  • Memory loss
  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures
  • Irritability

Want to learn more?

The following are organizations and/or websites dedicated to providing information and education surrounding Hydrocephalus. These organizations are dedicated to research, education, awareness, and/or support. They are listed in Alphabetical order without any preference or prejudice. Listing these organizations is not a recommendation or referral in any regard for seeking treatment or consultation or support for treatment.

A Simple Brain Injury Support Group
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus 
Brain Injury Association of America
BrainTalk Communities
Hydrocephalus Association
Hydrocephalus FoundationHydrocephalus Support Group, Inc
National Institute of Neurological Disorders And Stroke
National Hydrocephalus Foundation
National Organization for Rare Diseases
Pediatric Hydrocephalus Foundation
Spina Bifida Association