Chiari malformation type I

In Chiari malformation type I, signs and symptoms usually appear during late childhood or adulthood.

Headaches, often severe, are the classic symptom of Chiari malformation. They generally occur after sudden coughing, sneezing or straining. People with Chiari malformation type I can also experience:

  • Neck pain
  • Unsteady gait (problems with balance)
  • Poor hand coordination (fine motor skills)
  • Numbness and tingling of the hands and feet
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty swallowing, sometimes accompanied by gagging, choking and vomiting
  • Speech problems, such as hoarseness

Less often, people with Chiari malformation may experience:

  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Weakness
  • Slow heart rhythm
  • Curvature of the spine (scoliosis) related to spinal cord impairment
  • Abnormal breathing, such as central sleep apnea, which is when a person stops breathing during sleep

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