Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH)

Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) happens when too much fluid builds up in a person’s brain without increasing pressure in their brain tissue.

Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) happens when too much fluid builds up in a person’s brain without increasing pressure in their brain tissue. People who have NPH are usually aged over 60.

A person who has NPH may have symptoms such as:|

  • difficulty staying focused on one thing or switching between tasks
  • problems with organising and planning tasks
  • problems with memory, particularly of recent events
  • poor awareness of their problems with memory and thinking
  • increased confusion
  • difficulty responding to questions, particularly long or complicated ones
  • loss of bladder control
  • difficulty with walking – this can include shuffling or a ‘magnetic’ gait, where the person’s feet appear stuck to the floor.

Unlike more common causes of dementia, the symptoms of NPH usually progress quickly – over just a few months.

For most people who have NPH, the cause of the condition is not known. It sometimes develops after a person has recovered from a head injury, a brain haemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) or severe meningitis (an infection of the tissue that surrounds the brain).

NPH may be treated with surgery. A thin tube is put into one of the spaces in the brain where fluid is building up. This ‘shunt’ will allow the excess fluid to drain into another part of the body, where it can be safely absorbed into the blood. Surgery can help with the movement symptoms of NPH, but isn’t always effective for treating the symptoms of dementia (related to memory and thinking). NPH can be hard to diagnose, and health
professionals often mistakenly think the symptoms are being caused by more common health conditions.

Shine - spina bifida and hydrocephalus

Shine provides specialist support for anyone living with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus and related conditions.

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