Idiopathic intracranial hypertension

What is the long-term outlook for people with idiopathic intracranial hypertension?

The outlook (prognosis) associated with idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is quite variable and difficult to predict in each person. In some cases, it goes away on its own within months. However, symptoms may return. It has been reported that regaining weight that was previously lost has been associated with symptoms returning in some people. Some individuals with IIH experience progressive worsening of symptoms, leading to permanent vision loss. Symptoms that cause pain and loss of visual function cause much of the burden associated with IIH.

IIH is not known to be associated with any specific mortality risk, but surgical procedures used to treat severe cases may affect quality of life or lead to a shortened lifespan due to complications.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How might idiopathic intracranial hypertension be treated?

Management options for idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) can vary from person to person and may involve regular eye exams to monitor vision changes, medications, weight loss, and in some cases, surgery.

Medications that may be used to reduce CSF build-up and relieve intracranial pressure include acetazolamide and furosemide. Weight loss through dieting or weight loss surgery may also be recommended for people with IIH who are overweight or obese, although this does not lead to improvement of symptoms in all cases. If the above management options are not successful and symptoms are severe or permanent vision loss is possible, surgery may be needed. Types of surgery that may be needed may include a procedure to remove pressure on the optic nerve (optic nerve sheath fenestration), and CSF shunting, which involves surgically inserting a tube to drain cerebrospinal fluid.

Detailed information about management options for IIH are available on Medscape Reference's website by clicking here.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Selected Full-Text Journal Articles

Idiopathic intracranial hypertension: consensus guidelines on management

Mollan SP, et al. Idiopathic intracranial hypertension: consensus guidelines on management. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2018;89:1088–1100

Last updated on 04-27-20

Name: Intracranial Hypertension Research Foundation 6517 Buena Vista Drive
Vancouver, WA, 98661, United States
Phone: +1-360-693-4473 Fax : +1-360-694-7062 Email: Url:
Name: American Migraine Foundation AMF 19 Mantua Rd.
Mount Royal, NJ, 08061, United States
Phone: 856-423-0043 Fax : 856-423-0082 Email: Url:
Name: IIH UK United Kingdom Email: Url:
Gans MS. Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension Medscape Reference. May 17, 2017; Reference Link

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