Signs and Symptoms of Benign Intracranial Hypertension

Updated April 17, 2017

Benign intracranial hypertension, also known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension or pseudotumor cerebri, is a neurological disorder which increases the pressure around the brain. If left untreated, the condition could lead to swelling of the optic disc in the eye, and eventually lead to complete vision loss.


Chronic headache is the most common symptom of benign intracranial hypertension. While the frequency of the headaches can vary, most people with the condition experience severe headaches on a daily basis. These headaches are usually throbbing and can be intense enough to wake sufferers out of sleep. Headaches caused by benign intracranial hypertension usually last several hours, and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting and pain behind the eyeballs that worsens with movement. Benign intracranial hypertension headaches usually occur during early morning hours.

Vision Problems

Various vision problems can be a sign of benign intracranial hypertension. One of the most common vision problems caused by the condition is transient visual obscuration, which is characterised by episodes of blurred vision that typically lasts 30 seconds or less. After the brief period of blurred vision, vision is fully restored. According to the University of Iowa Imaging and Perimetry Society, approximately 75 per cent of people with benign intracranial hypertension experience transient visual obscuration. Approximately five per cent of people with benign intracranial completely lose sight in one or both eyes.

Buzzing Sound in the Ear

Another common sign of benign intracranial hypertension is a "buzzing" or "wooshing" sound in the ear. These noises are called pulsatile intracranial noises or pulse-synchronous tinnitus. The sound in the ear could be a sign of other conditions, but when coupled with the other signs of benign intracranial hypertension, headaches and vision problems, it is likely that the condition is the cause of the noises.

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