Intracranial pressure is the amount of pressure that the cranium exerts on brain tissue, the brain’s blood volume, and cerebrospinal fluid. Intracranial pressure fluctuates depending on activities like exercise, straining, coughing, arterial pulsation, and respiratory cycle. Normal intracranial pressure is seven to 15 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) at rest, and –10 mmHg when upright.
Causes of Elevated Intracranial Pressure
Brain trauma is one of the leading causes of intracranial brain pressure, specifically those that cause hematoma and cerebral edema. These conditions shift brain structures, destroy brain tissue, and contribute to excess cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, all of which increase intracranial pressure.
Signs and Symptoms of Intracranial Pressure
Intracranial pressures of more than 25 mmHg are usually fatal in adults if prolonged. Children can withstand increased pressures for longer periods. Common signs and symptoms of intracranial pressure include:
- Altered levels of consciousness
- Visual disturbances
- Abnormal respiratory patterns
- Slow heart rate
Treatment of Intracranial Pressure
In most cases doctors take a two-pronged approach by treating the underlying cause of intracranial pressure, while also managing current symptoms. While most intracranial pressure can be treated with pharmaceuticals, several different surgeries are used to relieve pressure on parts of the brain and to allow it to continue to swell without further damage.