Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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It is possible that the main title of the report Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension is not the name you expected.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Intracranial Hypertension (IH) is characterized by increased pressure inside the skull. Intracranial means inside the skull and hypertension means high fluid pressure. Intracranial hypertension means that the pressure of the fluid that surrounds the brain (cerebrospinal fluid or CSF) is too high. Elevated CSF pressure can cause two problems, severe headache and visual loss. If the elevated CSF pressure remains untreated, permanent visual loss or blindness may result.

Pseudotumor cerebri and benign intracranial hypertension are both former names for IH, which are now considered inaccurate. These names do not adequately describe the disorder and downplay the seriousness of IH. There are two categories of IH: primary intracranial hypertension and secondary intracranial hypertension.

Primary intracranial hypertension, now known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), occurs without known cause. This form most often occurs in young, overweight, females in their reproductive years (ages 20-45).

Secondary intracranial hypertension has an identifiable, causative agent, including drugs
(such as tetracycline, lithium, Vitamin A-derived oral acne medications or excessive ingestion of Vitamin A, and oral or intrathecal steroids, growth hormone treatments), sleep apnea and certain systemic diseases such as lupus, leukemia, kidney failure (uremia), meningitis and dural venous sinus thrombosis. There is an association of IH and Chiari type I malformation. Many other causes have been suggested in the medical literature but have not yet been confirmed as true causes. It is critical in these patients to rule out an intracranial space occupying mass by neuro-imaging (CT or MRI).

Although many factors are known to trigger the disease, the mechanism by which IH occurs, in either primary or secondary forms, is not known. In many cases, either type of IH may be chronic.

Supporting Organizations

Chiari & Syringomyelia Foundation

29 Crest Loop
Melville, NY 11747
Tel: (718)966-2593
Website: http://www.CSFinfo.org

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
Website: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

Intracranial Hypertension Research Foundation

6517 Buena Vista Dr
Vancouver, WA 98661
USA
Tel: (360)693-4473
Fax: (360)694-7062
Email: contact@ihrfoundation.org
Website: http://www.ihrfoundation.org

NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Tel: (301)496-5751
Fax: (301)402-2186
Tel: (800)352-9424
Website: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). For a full-text version of this report, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report.

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

Last Updated:  5/20/2015
Copyright  2015 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.