Hydrocephalus (Big Head in Babies/Children): Cause, Treatment.

There has been a lot of these children who you see with big heads that are bigger than even that of an adult. This is what we call Hydrocephalus, and the sad thing about this condition in our environment is that, most people would tag or link the increase in head size to a spiritual attack from their village or elsewhere, and be going to different spiritual and herbal homes and trying different concoctions, rather than coming to the hospital as soon as possible, when something can be done to save the situation.

By the time they would decide to come to the hospital, the child might have suffered some forms of severe brain damage, and would not have the same mental capacity again. Hence, today, we have decided to talk about this medical condition that is commonly tagged as spiritual attacks, what causes it, and what to do when you see someone who has it.

Table of Content

What is Hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus simply means “fluid/water in the brain.” What this means is an increase in size of the head, due to an abnormal accumulation of fluid/water within the space that contains the brain.

Hydrocephalus
hydrocephalus is excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the cranial vault. Image Credit: Guardian

When does Hydrocephalus Occur?

Hydrocephalus commonly affects children from their first week of life and up to those who are two years of age. This condition can also affects adults, but unlike in children, it would not result in the type of head swelling seen in children, because their bones are fused and stronger. Rather, Adults or older children would have: headache, vomiting and tiredness.

Hydrocephalus is not caused by any spiritual attack or witchcraft and was not done to the person by any enemy.

The condition is very treatable with good outcome, when the child is brought to the hospital early on before any brain damage has occurred.

What Causes Hydrocephalus?

Basically, what causes this head swelling seen in this condition is a blockage. A part of the brain in the human beings normally produce a fluid in the brain that is called Cerebrospinal Fluid. This fluid helps the brain to feel light in the head & also protects it, so that it does not scratch itself on the bone of the skull.
The fluid also helps to remove waste products from the brain.

This fluid has a connection (just like pipes in your house), from which it is removed from the brain area to the body (blood).

Whenever this connection (pipes) is blocked by any thing or for any reason at all, this fluid will not have any path to flow from. The fluid now accumulates in the head, and the head will now begin to swell to accommodate the increasing fluid, thereby compressing the brain. This is how Hydrocephalus happens.

This is commonly seen in children, especially in their early months or years of life.

Congenital Hydrocephalus

Some children can also be born with this condition. This occurs when the obstruction to the flow of the fluid (CSF) occurs in the womb (uterus). This is known as Congenital Hydrocephalus. It is rare. The most common cause of congenital hydrocephalus is a condition known in medicine as aqueductal stenosis.

Causes of Obstruction in Hydrocephalus

The most cause of the obstruction that is seen in hydrocephalus in our environment are infections, especially those which are not properly treated when the child is still a few months old.
Examples of this Infection is: meningitis. Read about Meningitis here.

Other possible causes are congenital tumours (these are growths in the head that the child is born with), among others.

Symptoms of Hydrocephalus

The symptoms that you would see in a child with this condition are;

  • increasing head size: this is the most prominent feature of this condition, and you would notice that the head size continues to increase on daily basis, as the fluids continue to accumulate.
  • the large head would be out of proportion to the body size. That is, the child’s head would even be bigger than that of an adult, whereas, the body is that of a 6 month old.
Hydrocephalus

Other symptoms are:

  • refusal of food,
  • vomiting,
  • inability to sit down, stand or walk and
  • general body weakness, among others.

Prevention of Hydrocephalus

You can’t exactly prevent hydrocephalus, but you can lower your child’s risk for developing the condition by;

  • Preventing head injuries, which can also lead to hydrocephalus
  • Vaccinating children against meningitis, a cause of hydrocephalus, is also very important for parents, especially in this Covid-19 period.
  • Make sure you get prenatal care during pregnancy. This can help reduce the chance of going into premature labour, which can lead to hydrocephalus.

Treatment of Hydrocephalus

There is currently no known way to cure hydrocephalus and the main treatment option today requires brain surgery. With early detection and appropriate intervention, the condition can be treated, and the affected children can have a better future.

There are currently three forms of surgical treatment used to manage hydrocephalus.

  • Shunting: The most common treatment procedure is the surgical implantation of a device called a shunt. A shunt is a flexible tube placed into the CSF system of the brain, which would help drain the accumulating CSF into another region of the body, mostly the abdomen, where it can be absorbed. This is known as the Ventriculo-Peritoneal Shunting

Other forms of treatment are;

  • Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV): in this surgical procedure, an equipment known as an endoscope is used to create a hole, so that the fluid (CSF) can see a path to go out.
  • Choroid Plexus Cauterization: used in addition to the ETV. The Choroid plexus is a group of vessels in the brain that produces the CSF.

If you have or know anyone who has this condition, please go to the hospital and See a doctor immediately. Your doctor would be able to enlighten you more on the best treatment option for you!.

Please do not go to one herbal home and be rubbing any concoction or leaves or black thing that would not work, and months later, when the conditions have worsened, you would now come to the hospital and expect the doctors to do miracle.

Please, share this post as much as you can using the buttons below, to enlighten as much people as possible.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have using the comment form below.

Authors

  • Nwonye Brian Chidiebube attended the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH in Ituku Ozalla, Enugu State, Nigeria.

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