Hydrocephalus, also referred to as “water on the brain,” is a condition in which the cerebral spinal fluid is unable to drain from the brain, causing a backup of fluid in the skull. The ventricles enlarge to accommodate for the excess fluid, pressing on different parts of the brain and causing a variety of symptoms.
Some people are born with this condition while others develop it at some point in their life. In children, it can cause their heads to swell, as their skull’s “soft spots” have not yet hardened, allowing them to stretch in order to accommodate for the extra fluid. In older people, the head cannot expand because their skull bones are fused together. This means that the pressure on the brain is intensified, causing severe headaches that may be coupled with vomiting, sleepiness, and difficulties with balance, among other things.
If this condition is left untreated, it can cause brain damage, loss in mental and physical abilities, and even death. If caught early and treated quickly though, most children can recover.