Intracranial Hypertension (IH)

What is Intracranial Hypertension?

Intracranial pressure (ICP) is the pressure inside the skull. In otherwords, the brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Different mechanisms in the body keep the intracranial pressure stable. CSF pressure has been shown to be influenced by abrupt changes in intrathoracic pressure during coughing, valsalva,and communication with the venous and arterial systems.

Very high intracranial pressures are usually fatal if prolonged. An increase in pressure, most commonly due to head injury leading to intracranial hematoma or cerebral edema, can crush brain tissue, shift brain structures, contribute to hydrocephalus, cause brain herniation (Chiari Malformation), and restrict blood supply to the brain.

Three things to keep in mind

There are three things that typically separate a migraine headache with IH. These three can occur individually or in combination.  These are:

  • Severe headache
  • Visual changes due to swollen optic nerves (papilledema)
  • Whooshing noise in one or both ears that is correlated with the pulse (pulse-synchronous tinnitus)


  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Ocular palsies
  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Back pain
  • Depression
  • Memory difficulties
  • Rhinorrhea
  • Stiff neck
  • Parasthesias


  • Pulse Synchronous Tinnitus

(whooshing, whistling, humming or marching noise heard in one or both ears)


  • Papilledema 
  • Visual disturbances
  • Transient Visual Obscurations
  • Blurred Vision
  • Double Vision
  • Blindness

Want to learn more?

The following organizations and/or websites offer additional information and education about Intracranial Hypertension. 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.

Intracranial Hypertension Research Foundation
National Institute of Neurological Disorders And Stroke
National Organization for Rare Diseases