Pseudotumor cerebri

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Pseudotumor cerebri is a condition defined by increasing pressure around the brain which results to visual issues and a headache. It is also called as “false brain tumor” since its symptoms strikingly resemble brain tumors. Generally, the condition can be treated but tends to recur in some cases.

What is the cause?

The precise cause of pseudotumor cerebri is still unknown, but it might be linked with excess cerebrospinal fluid in the skull. This fluid protects the spinal cord and the brain and usually absorbed into the bloodstream.

The condition develops if this fluid is not completed absorbed which leads to buildup. As a result, there is elevated pressure in the skull. The condition can develop among children, men and the elderly but most often among obese women in the childbearing age.

What are the risk factors?

  • Obesity – this is a leading factor that heightens the risk for ending up with pseudotumor cerebri. Take note that central obesity or fat buildup around the middle of the abdomen puts one at higher risk.
  • Certain drugs – some medications can put one at higher risk for the condition such as birth control pills, tetracycline, large intake of vitamin A and steroids.
  • Certain health conditions – some health conditions linked with the condition include sleep apnea, kidney disease, Lyme disease and Addison’s disease.
    Pseudotumor cerebri
    A headache is a common sign which is described as dull and starts behind the eyes.
  • Birth defect – certain defects can lead to the constriction of the blood vessels in the brain.

What are the signs of pseudotumor cerebri?

  • Headaches – this is a common sign which is described as dull and starts behind the eyes. The episodes become worse at night, when moving the eyes or upon waking up.
  • Visual issues – some issues with vision that might manifest include flashes of light or short episodes of blurry vision or blindness. These worsen as the pressure rises and if left untreated, it can lead to double vision or permanent loss of vision.

Other symptoms that might be present include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Vomiting
  • Back, shoulder or neck pain
  • Dizziness



Drugs are typically given to control or lessen the symptoms of pseudotumor cerebri. The doctor might prescribe the following:

  • Migraine medications – for relief to the headache
  • Glaucoma drugs
  • Diuretics – promotes frequent urination


Surgery might be an option if the vision worsens or if there is a need to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid. Some of the surgical options include optic nerve sheath fenestration and spinal fluid shunt placement.

Other treatment options that might be suggested by the doctor include cutting down weight and undergoing several spinal tap procedures to lessen the pressure.


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