The brainstem (pons) is responsible for controlling a number of critical life functions, including blood pressure, breathing, and a number of other vital functions. DIPG can cause significant neurological problems as pontine gliomas often affect the cranial nerves, so many of DIPG’s early symptoms appear in the facial muscles, often affecting the eye and eyelid movements. Unfortunately, the tumour grows so fast that symptoms often appear suddenly and get worse quickly.
The most common symptoms of DIPG are:
– Problems with eye movement. The most common one is difficulty looking to the side. Double vision is common because of the loss of alignment of the eyes. Other problems of eye movement include drooping eyelids and inability to close the eyes completely. Often the problems are seen in both eyes.
– Facial weakness, drooping on one side of the face.
– Sudden appearance of hearing problems, including deafness.
– Trouble chewingor swallowing, gagging while eating.
– Limb weakness, difficulty standing or walking, abnormal gaits, unbalanced limb movements.
– Nausea and vomiting from brain oedema (swelling) or hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is a condition in which the flow of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain is blocked, causing an increase in pressure inside the skull. About 10 percent of DIPG patients have hydrocephalus at the time of diagnosis.