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It is not unheard of for people living with hydrocephalus or NPH to have other symptoms or comorbidities (conditions). These could have preceded the diagnosis or appeared well after. Many people have to manage additional health problems including, but not limited to, headaches, chronic pain, and epilepsy.

What You Need to Know

Headaches and Hydrocephalus

One of the most common symptoms people with hydrocephalus experience is headaches, whether they are shunt dependent or not. For many people with hydrocephalus, headaches are part of a larger experience of chronic pain and other physical discomforts.

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Chronic Pain

Many people with hydrocephalus experience chronic pain although the exact numbers are unknown. Despite the lack of research, there are many resources for people living with chronic pain.

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Epilepsy and Hydrocephalus

Epilepsy is common in people with hydrocephalus. Of individuals with shunted hydrocephalus, an estimated 20% have epilepsy (Klepper et al., 1998). Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes unprovoked, recurring seizures. A person experiences a seizure when there is excessive and abnormal brain cell activity. This often produces uncontrolled movements, decreased responsiveness, and/or unconsciousness.

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Vision and Hydrocephalus

Some people with hydrocephalus develop vision problems. It is important to have a baseline eye examination because some eye problems may only be identifiable through an eye exam. Sometimes the appearance of the optic nerve can help a neurologist and neurosurgeon know the severity of hydrocephalus. Learn more about vision-related eye problems due to hydrocephalus, how hydrocephalus injures the eyes, affects eye movements, and causes perceptual defects, as well as what an ophthalmologist looks for in hydrocephalus.

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NPH and Comorbidities

It’s important to realize that NPH can frequently co-exist with other age-related neurologic and medical conditions that may produce similar symptoms. If a shunt is working properly but gait, cognitive and urologic symptoms persist or worsen, there are some alternative comorbid diagnoses that should be considered.

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