Some Mirena users have reported the development of intracranial hypertension, leading some to wonder what the condition is.
The National Eye Institute describes idiopathic intracranial hypertension as a condition occurring when there is higher than average pressure in the spaces surrounding the brain and spinal cord. These spaces are filled with cerebral spinal fluid (CSF), which helps protect the brain, bring nutritional elements to its cells, and carry away waste products.
What Are The Symptoms of Intracranial Hypertension?
vary but typically involve problems with vision. This is due to the increased CSF pressure on the optic nerve. Signs of its presence can include double vision, temporary blindness, blind spots, tunnel vision or poor peripheral visual perception, or permanent loss of eyesight.
Symptoms that suggest increased CSF pressure, but do not involve the eyes, are ringing in the ears, a condition known as tinnitus. Patients with Tinnitus may also hear a repetitive whooshing sound akin to one’s heartbeat or other rhythmic noise, according to the University of California at San Francisco.
Why is This Type of Hypertension Also Called Pseudotumor Cerebri?
The symptoms of CSF pressure are similar to the signs of a brain tumor. To rule a brain tumor out, doctors typically order a battery of tests such as an MRI or a CT scan.
Who Tends to Suffer From This Condition?
As indicated by the Eye Institute, 95 percent of those who suffer from this condition are women. Women who are obese or recently experienced rapid weight gain (up to 15 percent of their body weight) are also at an increased risk. According to health research advocacy group, Hormones Matter, researchers believe that hormones play a role in the condition because certain hormones are stored and released from the body’s store of adipose—or fatty—tissue.
What Does the Mirena IUD Have To Do With Intracranial Hypertension?
The Mirena IUD—an intrauterine device used to prevent pregnancy that comes preloaded with the hormone levonorgestrel— is the most prescribed IUD in the U.S. and is used by two million women globally, according to ReWireNews.com. Despite its popularity, many women allege that the device has caused their CSF pressure to increase and been the source of much suffering. As of 2018, some 856 lawsuits had been filed, ReWireNews reported.
In April 2017, the Mirena IUD lawsuits against the Bayer Company—Mirena’s manufacturer– were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Since its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000, the FDA’s has received nearly 10,000 adverse medical event reports on the Mirena IUD.
While the problems have been numerous, not all of them have centered around the development of intracranial hypertension. Other reported side effects include device expulsion or migration, bleeding, unidentified pain, and failed contraception.
ReWire notes that a physician’s letter to the New England Journal of Medicine in 1995 linked use of the hormone levonorgestrel—the active hormone in Mirena—with intracranial hypertension.
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