Zoloft & Pseudotumor
A pseudotumor is more technically known as an idiopathic or benign intracranial hypertension. Idiopathic simply means that the cause or causes are unknown, and benign indicates that the affliction is not deadly. The other two terms denote that there is a significant increase in the fluid pressure inside of the skull. There are a variety of possible causes for intracranial hypertension. Certain medications that combat acne or skin rashes and hormonal contraceptives have all been shown to increase cranial pressure. Chronic kidney disease and sleep apnea can also lead to the condition.
As you would expect, the first symptom noticed is usually a throbbing headache. Any activity such as sneezing or coughing that increases intracranial pressure tends to exacerbate this condition. The increased pressure compresses the cranial nerves leading to pain in the neck and face. This distortion of the cranial nerves can also cause double vision and diminished facial expressions. Similarly, tinnitus, a ringing in one or both ears, can be experienced due to increased pressure on the auditory system. Lastly, general nausea and vomiting are secondary symptoms.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Pseudotumors
The treatment of a pseudotumor initially involves a brain scan and a lumbar puncture to rule out any possible physical causes. The lumbar puncture drains the excess cerebrospinal fluid for further testing. It has the added benefit of immediately relieving some of the intracranial pressure. Treatment then progresses to medications, and if necessary, further surgery. With a pseudotumor, or idiopathic cranial hypertension, the cause is, by definition, unknown. Thus, treatment is primarily a process of symptom control. The reduction of intracranial pressure through medication or surgery is extremely important for several reasons. First, it relieves pressure on the optic disk where the nerves enter the eye and thus reduces the risk of progressively reduced visual acuity, and ultimately, blindness. Secondly, it alleviates many of the secondary symptoms such as headaches, nausea and vomiting. Long term treatment also involves the use of drugs and surgery. Enzyme inhibiting drugs to limit the production of cerebrospinal fluid can proactively help while shunt surgery can create a pathway that drains the excess cerebrospinal fluid into another body cavity.
Proper identification is the first step is remedying this condition, which is highly treatable in many cases. The lumbar puncture surgery should correct the most serious and potentially debilitating problems. The subsequent reduction of the intracranial pressure should show immediate results with a concurrent decrease in headaches, nausea and vomiting. Post-operation, spontaneous remission has been documented in a significant number of cases. There is no reason to believe that a long, healthy and productive life cannot be enjoyed after an affliction with a pseudotumor. Even the possibility of ongoing treatment does not preclude a large degree of normalcy in one's life. Our experienced staff is ready to provide you with information, advice and support in this time of adversity.