In infants, signs include a full and tense fontanel (soft spot), bulging of the scalp veins and swelling or redness along the shunt tract. Also watch for symptoms like unusual vomiting, irritability, sleepiness and decreased interest in eating. Children and adults may experience headaches, vomiting, irritability and tiredness. In the event of an abrupt malfunction, a child may develop symptoms very rapidly, in a matter of hours or days. Without treatment, coma, and even death, may result.
Randy had been refusing his bottle, crying at night and eating very little for about 8 days. I kept going back and forth as whether to call the neurosurgeon. Saturday evening he threw up some. I wiped him off and kept playing with him. Then he threw up again; forcefully. That made up my mind.
I took him to one of the satellite ER's of the hospital where he gets his neuro care, not our local children's. He was seen pretty quickly; but we had to wait on them to call in someone to do a CT scan (I guess they are "on call" after hours). They also did an x-ray of his shunt.
The ER doc called the neuro on call at the main hospital, and he looked at the scans. All looked good with his shunt and ventricles, but he had a lot of fluid behind both ears. Also, his tubes look as if they are no longer in the ear canal. The ER doc sent us home with antibiotics and instructions to follow up with ENT.