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Pseudotumor Cerebri

Osterhout Berger Daley > Disabling Conditions > Pseudotumor Cerebri

Nausea, head pain, and double vision are a few signs of pseudotumor cerebri, and this condition can make it very difficult to impossible to do many types of jobs. It can even require surgery to fix the problem, which can put someone on the sidelines for a long time, which can be a big financial burden. Anyone who has been diagnosed with this condition should know about some of the symptoms and treatments, but they should also know what kinds of options might be available to them through the Social Security Administration. Getting help for pseudotumor cerebri is possible, and you might be eligible for disability benefits that will help you stay financially afloat until you’re able to go back to work.

What Is Pseudotumor Cerebri?

This is a condition that occurs when the pressure inside of a person’s skull increases for no known reason. Another name for this condition is idiopathic intracranial hypertension because, as the word idiopathic suggests, we don’t entirely know the reason that there’s pressure around the cranium. If a reason for the pressure is ever identified, the diagnosis switches to secondary intracranial hypertension. When the pressure inside of the skull increases, one of the more common symptoms is loss of vision or blurriness because the optic nerve swells.

While it’s possible for someone of any age to develop this condition, it’s most common in obese women who are within the age range to get pregnant. There isn’t a known cause of this condition, but it’s possible that some people develop it when the cerebrospinal fluid that cushions the brain isn’t reabsorbed into the bloodstream at the rate that it’s supposed to be absorbed. As the body makes more of this fluid, it’s possible that the pressure builds, resulting in ocular and head pain because of the added pressure.

There are several risk factors associated with pseudotumor cerebri, including obesity in women who are of the age to bear a child, but there are several others. For instance, medications, such as too much vitamin A, tetracycline, and growth hormones can put someone at an increased risk. Additionally, some health problems have been associated with the disease, such as lupus, sleep apnea, polycystic ovary syndrome, kidney disease, Addison’s disease, anemia, blood clotting disorders, and underactive parathyroid glands.

Symptoms of Pseudotumor Cerebri

Too much pressure in the cranial area can lead to many symptoms that are similar to those that are often seen in people with brain tumors and those who have had a severe brain injury. Whenever there’s more fluid in the skull around the brain, a person is at an increased risk of developing severe headaches. And whenever there’s pressure around the orbital region, a person is at an increased risk for strain on the eye region as delicate parts are compressed, which can result in permanent damage to the eyes.

For instance, some people will begin to have vision problems, including seeing flashes of light when no outside stimulation is available and having double vision. Some people might also have difficulties seeing on the sides, and brief periods of blindness, usually lasting around a few seconds can occur. And if there’s no treatment for a long enough period of time, permanent blindness could eventually set in.

Additionally, some people will experience pain. For instance, pain in the shoulders and neck is one potential side effect, but other people might experience headaches that start behind the eyes. A whooshing sound that grows louder and softer in coordination with the heartbeat is another symptom, and it’s also possible for people to grow nauseous and dizzy, and they might even throw up.

Treatment for Pseudotumor Cerebri

There are several possible courses of treatment for anyone who has pseudotumor cerebri. For instance, some people might receive glaucoma medications in an attempt to reduce the production of cerebrospinal fluids. Other types of diuretics are also often used to decrease overall fluid retention by causing the person to urinate more. Migraine medications are sometimes given to patients to combat the painful headaches that are associated with pseudotumor cerebri.

Because people can lose their vision from pseudotumor cerebri, it’s important to get treatment, including surgery, if necessary. One of the most common types of surgery that someone with pseudotumor cerebri might get is an optic nerve sheath fenestration. When someone gets this type of surgery, the membrane that surrounds the optic nerve is cut to let the extra cerebrospinal fluid escape through the eye. This surgery often only needs to be performed on one eye for both eyes to experience the benefits.

Another type of surgery that’s sometimes given is a spinal fluid shunt placed so that the spinal fluid is directed away from the brain and skull. It’s usually placed at the base of the skull or in the spine, and the tube is directed toward the abdomen, where the excess fluid is released.

Finally, one of the newest types of surgery for this condition is called venous sinus stenting. With this procedure, a stent is placed in a large vein in the head to relieve pressure. This procedure is very new, though, so more testing needs to be done to determine its effectiveness.

Disability Benefits for Pseudotumor Cerebri

Whenever you’re working and feeling nauseous, having difficulties seeing, or experiencing pain, you might also be having difficulties working and keeping a job. People with pseudotumor cerebri should know about the options available to them when they’re trying to find a way to pay their bills during this difficult time. Some people might qualify for disability insurance through the Social Security Administration, and learning the qualifications and process of attaining benefits could make it easier to get the help needed.

To qualify, the applicant needs to show evidence that they’ve been affected by the condition for at least 12 months or that it will affect them for at least 12 months. Additionally, they must meet a set of qualifications set out in the Blue Book, which is the manual for determining whether or not someone meets the requirements to receive disability benefits.

There isn’t a specific listing for pseudotumor cerebri, so a person would have to meet the qualifications under another listing. One way that a person could meet the qualifications is to meet the listing for loss of visual acuity. If a person’s vision drops below 20/200, then they’ll meet the qualifications under the medical criteria.

But if someone has pseudotumor cerebri and doesn’t meet any listing, they might still be able to qualify under the medical-vocational allowance by filling out the form for the residual-functional capacity test. With this test, the doctor will make a list of all of the limitations that a person has. Then, the doctor will send that list to the Social Security Administration. There, a caseworker will determine whether or not there’s suitable work available for the applicant by comparing the requirements of all of the jobs that the person has done in the past with the person’s limitations.

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