Hormonal contraceptives have been associated with numerous adverse health consequences, some of which can be deadly. A number of women have been diagnosed with idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), a rare neurological side effect that occurs when pressure inside the skull builds up suddenly. Symptoms of IIH may include migraine headaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), vision loss, papilledema (swelling of the optic nerve) and blindness.
What is NuvaRing?
NuvaRing is a small, flexible ring that is inserted into a woman’s vagina once a month to protect against pregnancy. The device is left in place for 3 weeks and taken out for the remaining week of each month. NuvaRing is manufactured by Merck & Co., and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001.
Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH)
The brain contains four interconnected ventricles through which cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flows. In order to maintain the correct pressure inside the skull, the flow of CSF must be kept balanced.
In patients with idiopathic intracranial hypertension, however, pressure inside the skull accumulates, resulting in chronic headaches, blurred or double vision, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Most people with IIH are initially diagnosed with brain tumors before their doctor recognizes the true nature of the problem.
Symptoms of idiopathic intracranial hypertension include:
- Changes in vision
- Vision loss
- Papilledema (swelling of the optic nerve)
- Feeling dizzy or nauseated
- Neck stiffness
- Difficulty walking
- Persistent ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Surgical options for patients with idiopathic intracranial hypertension include:
- Ventricular Shunt – CSF is drained from the brain into the peritoneal cavity, abdomen or heart muscle.
- Lumbar Shunt – Cerebrospinal fluid drained from the spine into the peritoneal cavity and/or stomach.
- Optic Nerve Sheath Fenestration – Opening is made in the covering of the optic nerve to drain fluid and relieve pressure on the nerve.