Headaches and vision loss, associated with obesity- a rising concern among young girls and women: Kauvery Hospital
Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension is a neurological condition where. there is a buildup of high pressure in the brain which leads to severe headaches and visual disturbances.
Chennai, 5th July 2022: Kauvery Hospital Chennai, a unit of Kauvery Group of Hospitals, a leading multispecialty healthcare chain in Tamil Nadu, today announced the successful treatment of a young girl and a woman with severe headache and disturbances of vision (blurring of vision) due to a condition called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension.
An adolescent aged 11 and a young woman aged 29, both with obesity, presented with complaints of severe headache, episodes of vomiting and progressive problems with vision. They were diagnosed with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension, a condition usually triggered by various factors in the context of obesity.
Speaking on the condition, Dr. Sivarajan Thandeeswaran , Senior Consultant Stroke and Neurovascular Medicine, Kauvery Hospital, says "The 11 year old girl approached us with complaints of persistent headache for two months, which was severe in intensity, throbbing in nature and associated with episodes of vomiting. She also had a history of heaviness of eyelids and blurred vision. An ophthalmological evaluation indicated papilledema in both eyes (swelling in the optic nerve). She then underwent imaging of the brain which revealed features of Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. This refers to building up of pressure in the fluid that surrounds the brain whose function is to act as a protective layer, and leads to the symptoms experienced by these patients.
A lumbar puncture (test done through lower spinal region) recorded the Cerebrospinal Fluid pressure as 28 cm (Normally 15). Excess fluid was safely let out following which there was dramatic improvement, with almost complete resolution of headache and vision."
Similarly, a 29-year-old woman presented with complaints of sudden onset of double vision, severe headache and vomiting. She had restricted movements of right eye. Routine blood investigations revealed anaemia and further examination showed severe swelling of the optic disc. She was diagnosed with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension with threatened vision and underwent emergency lumbar puncture. She was then placed on treatment which relieved her of the symptoms.
Such conditions are frequently seen in young and middle-aged people who are obese. Obesity increases Intrathoracic pressure (pressure in chest cavity) which then elevates the fluid pressure inside the brain. When this occurs the patient experiences symptoms such as visual disturbances, severe headache and, occasionally difficulty in eye movements, double vision, and rarely loss of vision. Facial palsy may occur when the nerve that is concerned with the muscle of the face is compromised.
The incidence of obesity has risen among school going children and the middle-aged population (especially in women), post-pandemic. The sudden spurt of weight gain has been considered to be a major contributor to such conditions. In severe or resistant cases fluid diversion procedures may be needed (eg: Shunt of fluid from the brain to abdominal cavity)
"If headache and visual disturbances are persistent a thorough eye check including examination of optic fundus to detect papilledema is important. This condition is also associated with changes in the venous channels of the brain wherein the blood flow into the brain is normal, but the outflow is a little slower. There have been instances where people have lost their vision from persistent swelling of the fundus and therefore it is important to diagnose this condition early", added Dr. Sivarajan.
Dr. Aravindan Selvaraj, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Kauvery hospital Chennai, said, "This incident is an important message for the public, especially youngsters, to prevent obesity and be wary of their vision and brain health. It is unfortunate for school-going children to get such conditions due to lack of physical activity and unhealthy diets which have become prevalent ever since the covid pandemic started. Parents need to ensure that their child's BMI (Body Mass Index) is ideal, and should not neglect any related problems that they may face. I appreciate Dr. Sivarajan and team for addressing such conditions with the right diagnosis and treatments."
Both the child and woman were relieved of all symptoms post treatment, and their vision was restored to normal status.