Chronic IH can affect multiple areas of the body. One of the mysteries of this disorder is that not every person will experience the same set of symptoms. This is a primary reason why chronic IH is often misdiagnosed. However, while each individual may not exhibit every symptom, there are common symptoms listed below—in addition to headache, papilledema and pulse synchronous tinnitus—that many do experience.
Pain in the arms, legs and back (arthralgia): Sharp, deep nerve pain in the arms, shoulders/upper back, hips/ lower back, and legs can occur with elevated intracranial pressure.
Severe neck stiffness: An extremely painful stiff and sore neck that is hard to move, is a recurrent complaint. But, in contrast to the stiff neck that can accompany other neurological illnesses like meningitis, there is no sign of infection or other abnormal findings when cerebrospinal fluid is examined. Some researchers speculate that the reason for the stiff neck may be due to high intracranial pressure transmitted from the head down the spinal subarachnoid space. This may cause the spinal nerve sheaths (which cover the spinal nerves and are located at the back of the head and in the neck) to stretch at the point where the spinal nerves exit the spinal cord and enter muscle tissue.
Dizziness, lightheadedness and balance problems: These symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the person. Gait ataxia (difficulty walking) has also been reported in chronic IH cases but the exact cause is not understood.
Parasthesias (numbness/tingling in hands, feet, face)
Nausea/vomiting: This symptom is associated with the chronic, severe IH headache.
Rhinorrhea: Spinal fluid leakage from the nose (rhinorrhea) is a result of high intracranial pressure erosion of the bone separating the skull from the nasal cavity.
Endocrine problems: While uncommon, endocrine problems can be due to the flattening of the pituitary gland and empty sella syndrome.
Malaise: Malaise and fatigue can be a side-effect from medication. It can also be a result of chronic debilitation from headache pain, inadequate diet, and sleep deprivation.
Depression: Depression and anxiety are associated with chronic disorders. However, recent research has found higher rates of depression in women who experience chronic headache. Whether this is also true for chronic IH and depression is unknown at this time. Depression appears to occur at somewhat higher rates with chronic IH than expected but research is needed to confirm this observation.
Memory difficulties: Short-term memory problems and dysgraphia (trouble spelling and recognizing words) are often mentioned by people with chronic IH. This is another area in which answers about chronic IH and its effects can be uncovered through research.
Exercise intolerance: For some, physical activity may exacerbate head pain and other IH symptoms. Unfortunately, this can be especially challenging for someone with idiopathic IH, who is trying to lose weight.