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The symptoms will vary according to the age of the person affected and the type of hydrocephalus concerned. 

Hydrocephalus causes raised intracranial pressure and is a serious life-threatening condition. It requires immediate attention and an emergency or urgent treatment plan.

Hydrocephalus that develops in children or adults (acquired hydrocephalus) can initially cause headaches.

  • The headache may be worse when you wake up in the morning. This is because the fluid in your brain does not drain as well while you’re lying down and may have built up overnight.
  • Sitting up for a while may improve the headache. However, as the condition progresses, headaches may become continuous.

Other symptoms may then include:

  • Vomiting
  • Deterioration in conscious level
  • Poor coordination
  • Behavioural changes and visual deterioration

From birth

Congenital hydrocephalus 

Children and adults 

Acquired hydrocephalus 

Senior Adults

Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH)