Intracranial pressure in adults

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What is intracranial pressure?
The brain is surrounded by fluid – cerebrospinal fluid, which nourishes and protects nerve cells. Cerebrospinal fluid is continuously formed and flows away from the skull, due to which its constant pressure is maintained. This is intracranial pressure – a certain force that presses on the brain and the walls of the skull.

Change this pressure in mm Hg., and normally it is from 10 to 15 mm. If it is higher, this is a reason to be wary, and if the pressure exceeds 25 mm Hg, it can be dangerous for the brain. If the value is more than 35 mm Hg. severe and irreversible changes in the brain are possible – such situations are considered critical.

Causes of intracranial pressure in adults
Increased intracranial pressure (ICP) is not an independent disease, but a syndrome. It is sometimes called intracranial hypertension by doctors. The pressure inside the brain (similar to arterial pressure) fluctuates when the head is tilted back and forth or to the sides, during exercise or sneezing. But it can rise to serious numbers with pathologies, and there are many of them.

ICP (intracranial pressure) occurs as a result of an increase in the volume of intracranial contents (cerebrospinal fluid or cerebrospinal fluid), tissue fluid, or the appearance of foreign tissue (tumor, cyst, brain abscess).

In addition, the causes of increased ICP can be:

  • traumatic brain injury;
  • tumor;
  • intracerebral hemorrhage;
  • neuroinfections (encephalitis, meningitis).

The reason may also be the long-term use of drugs from the group of hormonal contraceptives, corticosteroids, or antibiotics.

The pressure increases due to the fact that fluid is either produced in excess (for example, due to an infection that has spread to the brain or its membranes), or because fluid flows out of the skull worse through special pathways. If volumetric processes develop in the cranial cavity (for example, a tumor grows or hemorrhage occurs), there will be less space for fluid, and its pressure will also increase.

Symptoms of intracranial pressure in adults
In many cases, a slight increase in ICP may not manifest itself in any way for a long time. If the pressure rises sharply or high enough, the following symptoms may occur:

  • headache – it is pressing or bursting, usually occurs in the morning, this pain does not have a clear localization, it can be felt in different parts of the skull;
  • nausea and vomiting – these usually occur at the peak of the headache;
  • drowsiness, malaise, general ill health;
  • memory impairment (forgetfulness), attention disorders, thinking problems;
  • changes in the autonomic nervous system – surges in blood pressure, slow heart rate, increased sweating;
  • visual impairment up to complete blindness.

Symptoms may come on suddenly or develop gradually over several weeks or months.

Treatment of intracranial pressure in adults
The main principle of treatment is taking medications that reduce the formation of cerebrospinal fluid and activate the process of its absorption. In severe cases, surgical treatment is performed – bypass surgery.

But first of all, you need to see a doctor and carry out diagnostics in order to accurately determine the increase in ICP and the reason that led to this.

Diagnostics
By external signs, it is extremely difficult to suspect an increase in ICP. The doctor must know all the complaints and those facts from life that preceded the symptoms. This could be a hypertensive crisis, head injury, severe infection, kidney or liver problems. In order to confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will prescribe a series of studies to the patient:

  • CT or MRI of the brain to assess the structure of all tissues of the skull, to mark the state of the cerebral ventricles, where cerebrospinal fluid accumulates;
  • echo-encephalos copy to determine how the brain is working;
  • Ultrasound of the brain (mainly in children through the fontanelle);
  • examination of the state of the fundus by an ophthalmologist;
  • puncture of the spinal cord with measurement of the pressure of the flowing cerebrospinal fluid (the cerebrospinal fluid itself is taken for analysis).

Modern methods of treatment
In some cases, the patient does not need treatment, he is observed undergoing therapy for the underlying disease, which caused the increase in ICP.

If it is necessary to treat pathology, two approaches are used – conservative and operative.

Conservative interventions are carried out for those patients in whom the increase in ICP is chronic, there is no pronounced deterioration in the condition over time. The mainstay of treatment is drugs that have a diuretic effect, which reduces the volume of fluid in the head. The specific medicine is determined by the level of pressure and the situation. In severe and acute processes, osmotic diuretics (mannitol) are used, in chronic cases – furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, spironalactone. While taking them, it is necessary to drink a potassium preparation.

Surgical treatments for increased ICP depend on the stage and severity of the disease. In acute situations, craniotomy is performed to reduce the pressure of the fluid on the brain and remove excess fluid. Special shunts (tubes) are routinely placed to drain fluid from the brain into the abdominal cavity.

Prevention of intracranial pressure in adults at home
Prevention of increased ICP is the prevention of various diseases affecting the cranial cavity. Including, protection against infections that can affect the brain – vaccination against meningococcal and hemophilic infections, a flu vaccination. It is also necessary to treat various pathologies that can affect the functioning of the brain.

The general guidelines are simple:

  • observe the daily routine and lead the most healthy lifestyle;
  • avoid head injuries;
  • protect yourself from stress and nervous overload;
  • get enough sleep.

How to understand that you have increased intracranial pressure?
The very first symptom is the headache of varying intensity, more often at night. Also, common symptoms include:

  • nausea, accompanied by vomiting, after which there is no relief (since the pressure in the brain does not change);
  • various vegetative manifestations, such as fatigue, sweating, heart palpitations, chills, drop in blood pressure.

Less often, behavioral disorders develop – nervousness, irritability up to aggression.

Why is intracranial pressure dangerous?
Edema can compress blood vessels, which can lead to ischemic stroke. If the optic nerve suffers, then its atrophy (a sharp decrease in vision), blindness is possible. The worst consequence can be death.

When to call a doctor at home with intracranial pressure?
Since ICP in most cases is a symptom of a disease, an ambulance call is necessary in case of the above symptoms (severe headache, decreased vision, vomiting that does not bring relief, unstable blood pressure readings).

Is it possible to lower intracranial pressure at home?
It is impossible to reduce ICP at home! Self-medication without an established diagnosis and additional diagnostics is strictly prohibited! Treatment with folk methods can cause irreparable harm to the body since the disease has serious life-threatening complications.

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