Reader’s Mail: Is a Low Pressure Headache the Same As Hydrocephalus?

Question:
Is a low pressure headache the same thing as hydrocephalus? I’m considered normal pressure hydrocephalus, plus I have chiari malformation and chronic migraines, which I assume are attributed to one or both of those conditions.

Answer:
No, low pressure headaches are caused by a spinal leak. This causes headaches to be worse standing and better lying down. It is often treated with a blood patch, which is where blood is injected in the area of spine where the leak is suspected to try to close the leak.

Chiari malformation is a separate disorder that you are born with where there is sagging of the brain. You could develop hydrocephalus if the sagging of the brain is extreme. Generally headaches are worse with coughing, bearing down and sneezing. Also, they are worse with lying down, which is the opposite of low pressure headaches.

Vincent Martin, M.D.

Please go to our website: headaches.org for more information on migraine and headache.