What is Benign Intracranial Hypertension?

Intracranial hypertension (IH), also known as pseudotumor cerebri and benign intracranial hypertension, is a more serious condition than the term “benign” in the name might lead you to expect. High pressure inside your skull, called hypertension, can lead to symptoms, including severe headaches and temporary vision loss. Left untreated, too much pressure in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrounding your brain can even lead to permanent vision loss.

At Arizona Institute of Neurology & Polysomnography, our compassionate care team, led by Habib Khan MD, has the expertise you can trust when it comes to treating potentially serious conditions in your brain and skull. We offer a complete range of neurological services to new and existing patients from our Casa Grande, Arizona, offices.

Know your risk factors

Some factors increase your risk of contracting IH. Primary intracranial hypertension also called idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), doesn't have a known cause. While anyone can contract this type of IH, it appears more frequently in women ages 20-45 who are overweight.

Secondary intracranial hypertension results from a range of specific causes. These include:

We also observe a connection between IH and Chiari type I malformation. Other possible causes of IH are still under study, and we don't yet know exactly what mechanism causes IH to occur, either in its primary or in its secondary form.

Symptoms to watch out for

The most common symptom of intracranial hypertension is an unbearable headache, often frequently recurring. You might also experience nausea or vomiting that doesn't respond to medication. Headache pain from IH can become intense enough to wake you up from a sound night's sleep.

Other symptoms of IH are:

Patients with IH sometimes get misdiagnosed with refractory migraine headaches and treated ineffectively. With the right diagnosis, you can protect yourself from the worst possible consequences of IH, like permanent blindness.

Diagnosis and treatment options

To confirm IH, we take a reading of your CSF. We also use imaging studies, including CT scans and MRIs, and neurological examinations in the diagnostic process.

Treatments for IH include both lifestyle changes and medical options. Dr. Khan may recommend:

If you're experiencing debilitating headache pain or other IH symptoms, or have concerns about your potential risk of contracting IH, contact us at the Arizona Institute of Neurology & Polysomnography. Dr. Khan can diagnose your potential IH issues and recommend the best course of treatment to end your pain and prevent further impacts to your health and wellness. You can schedule your initial consultation appointment over the phone, or by using the online booking tool.

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