Symptoms of Hydrocephalus

Symptoms of hydrocephalus will differ depending on the patient's age.  In infants, symptoms of hydrocephalus include:

  • Irritability
  • Poor head control
  • Poor feeding
  • A bulging "soft spot" at the top of the head

Because the bones of the infant skull are growing and can expand to accommodate increased amounts of CSF, those with hydrocephalus typically have an increase in the circumference measurement of the head.  

In older children and adults, symptoms of hydrocephalus include:

  • Headache
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Problems with vision, balance, and walking
  • A downward gaze, called "sunsetting of the eyes"

In older adults, symptoms of normal pressure hydrocephalus include:

  • Problems walking
  • Urinary continence
  • Dementia

It’s important to have any child with neurological symptoms evaluated as soon as possible by a pediatrician, who may refer the child to a neurosurgeon for further evaluation and a treatment plan. Adults with neurological symptoms should see their primary care physician for a complete physical examination, including a basic neurological exam (see Diagnosing and Treating Hydrocephalus).

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Our Care Team

  • Vice Chair, Neurological Surgery
  • Director, Pediatric Neurological Surgery
Phone: 212-746-2363
  • Assistant Professor of Radiology in Neurological Surgery (Manhattan and Queens)
Phone: 212-746-2821 (Manhattan) or 718-303-3739 (Queens)
  • Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Leon Levy Research Fellow
  • Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute
Phone: 646-962-3389
  • Vice Chair for Academic Affairs
  • Professor of Neurological Surgery, Pediatric Neurosurgery
  • Associate Residency Director
Phone: 212-746-2363
  • Victor and Tara Menezes Clinical Scholar in Neuroscience
  • Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery in Pediatrics
Phone: 212-746-2363
  • Executive Vice Chair, Neurological Surgery
  • Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Director, Movement Disorders and Pain
  • Director, Residency Program
Phone: 212-746-4966
  • Chief of Neurological Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens
  • Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery
  • Co-director, Weill Cornell Medicine CSF Leak Program
Phone: (718) 670-1837
  • Associate Professor, Neurological Surgery
Phone: 718-670-1837

Reviewed by Jeffrey Greenfield, Ph.D., M.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: April 2021

Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787