Definition

What is Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP)?

Increased intracranial pressure (ICP) is a rise in pressure around your brain. It may be due to an increase in the amount of fluid surrounding your brain. For example, there may be an increased amount of the cerebrospinal fluid that naturally cushions your brain or an increase in blood in the brain due to an injury or a ruptured tumor.

Increased ICP can also mean that your brain tissue itself is swelling, either from injury or from an illness such as epilepsy. Increased ICP can be the result of a brain injury, and it can also cause a brain injury.

Increased ICP is a life-threatening condition. A person showing symptoms of increased ICP must get emergency medical help right away.

How common is Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP)?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP)?

The common symptoms of Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP) are:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Decreased mental abilities
  • Confusion about time, and then location and people as the pressure worsens
  • Double vision
  • Pupils that don’t respond to changes in light
  • Shallow breathing
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

These signs could indicate other serious conditions besides increased ICP, such as a stroke, a brain tumor, or a recent head injury.

Signs of increased ICP in infants

Increased ICP in infants can be the result of injury, such as falling off a bed, or it can be a sign of child abuse known as shaken baby syndrome, a condition in which a small child has been roughly handled to the point of brain injury.

Symptoms of increased ICP in infants include those for adults, as well as some additional signs unique to babies under 12 months old. Because the bony plates that form the skull are softer in babies than in older children and adults, they may spread apart in an infant with increased ICP. This is called separated sutures of the skull. Increased ICP can also cause the fontanel, the soft spot on the top of a baby’s head, to bulge outward.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you or your loved one has any signs or symptoms listed above or you have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP)?

  • Too much cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid around your brain and spinal cord)
  • Bleeding into the brain
  • Swelling in the brain
  • Aneurysm
  • Blood pooling in some part of the brain
  • Brain or head injury
  • Brain tumor
  • Infections such as encephalitis or meningitis
  • Hydrocephalus
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP)?

Please consult with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP) diagnosed?

To diagnose ICP, your doctor may do the following:

  • Medical history and physical exam including a neurological exam to test senses, balance and mental status
  • Spinal tap (also called lumbar puncture), which measures the pressure of cerebrospinal fluid
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan, the gold standard imaging test, creates a series of cross-sectional X-ray images of the head and brain

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (used after the initial assessment) uses magnetic fields to detect subtle changes in brain tissue content and can show more detail than X-rays or CT

How is Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP) treated?

The most urgent goal of treatment is to reduce the pressure inside your skull. The next goal is to address any underlying conditions.

Effective treatments to reduce pressure include draining the fluid through a shunt via a small hole in the skull or through the spinal cord. The medications mannitol and hypertonic saline can also lower pressure. They work by removing fluids from your body. Because anxiety can make increased ICP worse by raising your blood pressure, you may receive a sedative as well.

Less common treatments for increased ICP include:

  • Removing part of the skull
  • Taking medicines to induce coma
  • Deliberately chilling the body, or induced hypothermia

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP)?

The following lifestyles might help you prevent Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP):

You can’t prevent increased ICP, but you can prevent head injury. Always wear a helmet when you bike or play contact sports. Wear your seatbelt when driving and keep your seat back as far as possible from the dashboard or the seat in front of you. Always buckle children into a child safety seat.

Falling at home is a common cause of head injury, especially in older adults. Avoid falls at home by keeping floors dry and uncluttered. If necessary, install handrails.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: April 11, 2018 | Last Modified: April 11, 2018

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