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Why My Head Feels Like It’s Being Inflated With Helium

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After more than six years of daily headaches and migraines from age 13-21, I finally found out the most likely cause of my headaches: intracranial hypertension, which is also known as pseudotumor cerebri.

The doctor described the condition like a sink with a backed-up a drain, so the water just sits in the sink and gets fuller and fuller. Except in this case, the sink is my brain. 

What does this feel like? It feels like my head is literally being inflated with helium. Someone just keeps pumping and pumping, and I feel like my head is going to pop off at any given moment.

The pain at the base of my skull is horrendous, and my vision is affected as well. The pressure gets so great that my hearing goes out. It gets muffled or far-away sounding, and sometimes it’s ringing.

It’s the kind of sensation where you want to hold your nose and blow out to make your ears pop, except they don’t pop — ever. It’s especially worse when I go from sitting to standing.

Sometimes my face goes numb or feels tingly, and my brain fog is horrendous. In about a month’s time frame, I managed to catch our stove on fire — twice. I feel like I lost IQ points. I had pulsatile tinnitus where I felt like I could hear my heartbeat in my ear. And don’t get me started on the horrendous fatigue I feel no matter how much sleep I get.

I had a venous stent placed in late June, and the recovery was more difficult than I had anticipated. Unfortunately, while some symptoms have improved, others are the same if not worse. I’m definitely more symptomatic in regards to the weather since my surgery, so that’s not super fun.

The next option to relieve the pressure would be a VP shunt. It’s certainly not something I want to rush into, since high pressure on the brain can lead to permanent conditions, especially with your vision.

Intracranial hypertension can go into remission, but it’s really something that is never cured.

Originally published: September 7, 2016
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