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Can Brain Fluid Leak Out Your Nose

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What Precautions Should I Take Following A Csf Leak Repaired

4 Risky Nose Jobs: Brain Leakage & More | Botched | E!

Your doctor will give you additional instructions, but these are also some reasonable precautions to follow for 4 to 6 weeks after your CSF leak repair:

  • Avoid lifting anything over 10 pounds
  • Avoid bending, lifting, stretching and twisting
  • Avoid straining to have bowel movements a stool softener is often prescribed
  • Avoid coughing and sneezing, but if you must, do so with your mouth open
  • Do not blow your nose
  • Avoid use of straws

What Are The Symptoms Of A Csf Leak

The most common symptom of a CSF leak is clear, watery drainage leaking from only one side of the nose or one ear, that has a salty taste. Many times this drainage will increase when a patient tilts his or her head forward, or when a patient gets up after lying down. Additional symptoms include changes in vision or hearing, neck stiffness, and chronic sever headaches.

Precautions After Csf Leak Repair

After getting the required treatment which depends on the severity of your CSF leak your doctor will give you a set of instructions to follow in order to recover quickly. You should follow these for the next 4 to 6 weeks after your CSF leak repair.

  • avoiding lifting anything heavy
  • keep your posture straight and only bend on knees and hips

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When A Runny Nose Is Brain Fluid Leaking: Here Is What To Do

Most cases of runny noses are not from central spinal fluid leaks.


It’s not snot. It’s leaking brain fluid.

That’s what Greg Phillpotts learned after suffering from a runny nose for 5 years, as described by Josh Chapin for ABC 11 Eyewitness News. Here’s a Tweet from Chapin:

He thought it was just allergies or even just a runny nose. It turned out to be something he needed surgery for. Its all next at 11 #ABC11

Josh Chapin

It turned out that Phillpotts was not experiencing constant allergies as he had been told previously. Instead, cerebral spinal fluid was leaking out into his nose. CSF is a fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord, cushioning, protecting, and supporting those parts of the body. CSF is one of the reason your brain doesn’t land with a thud every time you do a jumping jack or listen to Metallica. Normally, the membranes keep the CSF contained, a bit like a big water balloon around your brain and spinal cord. However, anything that may damage the membranes, such as a head injury, surgery, or a tumor, may leave a hole though which the fluid can leak out, potentially into your nose or ear.

Here’s a TODAY show segment about another person who had a somewhat similar experience:

If conservative approaches don’t resolve the leakage, surgery may be in order. Depending on where the defect is located, your doctor may be able to fix it with using a scope.

Woman’s Runny Nose Was Actually Brain Fluid

  • Cerebrospinal fluid leaks occur in about five in 100,000 people every year
  • The leaks are most commonly caused by head trauma or surgery

For the past two years, 52-year-old Kendra Jackson of Omaha, Nebraska just thought she had a bad cold.

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How Is A Csf Leak Diagnosed And Treated

A CSF leak is a very dangerous problem, so if you believe you have a CSF leak or are experiencing any of the symptoms, its important to consult with a rhinologist immediately to create a treatment plan.

To diagnose a cerebrospinal fluid leak, a rhinologist like Dr. Kuperan collects and tests the nasal drainage to see if it contains beta-2 transferrin, a protein unique to CSF. A CT scan of the sinuses and a nasal endoscopy may also be used to better asses the problem.

A small cerebrospinal fluid leak may be treated by placing a lumbar spinal drain to decrease the intracranial pressure. If this works, the CSF leak will spontaneously resolve. Patients who dont experience relief after a lumbar drain may require surgery. Before a CSF leak repair is performed surgically, a rhinologist determines the location of the leak by injecting a dye into the CSF space that turns the fluid into a yellow/green color. Once the location of the CSF leak is determined, a rhinologist can close the leak by performing a highly-specialized CSF leak repair.

Every single patient is different and experiences symptoms as such. At Houston Advanced Nose & Sinus, we offer unique approaches to each patient to resolve CSF leaks as efficiently as possible.

What Is A Csf Leak

A CSF leak is when the CSF escapes through a tear or hole in the dura, the outermost layer of the meninges, which surround the brain. The dura can be injured or punctured during a head injury or a surgical procedure involving the sinuses, brain or spine. It may also be damaged by a lumbar puncture, including a spinal tap, spinal anesthesia or myelogram. Spontaneous CSF leaks can occur due to increased intracranial pressure . This can happen to patients with hydrocephalus, a buildup of CSF in the skull. Spontaneous leaks may also occur without an identifiable cause.

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Treatment For Cerebrospinal Fluid Leaks In Houston

At least 5 of every 100,000 people will develop a CSF leak each year, but the condition is thought to be underdiagnosed.1 A CSF leak can be debilitating and potentially life-threatening, but it is also difficult to correctly diagnose. Houston Rhinologist Dr. Arjuna Kuperan has the skill and experience to accurately diagnose and treat CSF leaks. As a Board Certified Otolaryngologist , Dr. Kuperan specializes in nose and sinus issues.

Cerebral Spinal Fluid Leaks

Patient’s Runny Nose Is Actually A Brain Leak

Cerebrospinal fluid surrounds the brain and spine, and is encased in a membrane known as the dura. Sometimes, a CSF leak develops from a defect in the dura, allowing fluid to leak from the nose or ear. CSF leaks can be caused by head injuries, various surgeries, or spontaneously from high pressure inside the skull.

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How Dangerous Are Csf Leaks

CSF leaks aren’t immediately life-threatening, but they can cause serious complications. “If you lose enough fluid fast enough, it causes pretty intense headaches,” Dr. Patel explained. “But the bigger concern is that your body can’t keep up with fluid production, and air enters the space around the brain where the fluid should be.”

Air can also be forced into that space when a person blows their nose repeatedly, in an attempt to clear up their runny nose and “allergies,” Dr. Patel said. “If there’s too much air, it will push the brain around to create space, and that can become life-threatening,” Dr. Patel added.

CSF leaks can also become dangerous if part of the brain starts to push through the hole in the bone. “Anytime there’s communication between the brain and the outside world, there’s a chance you could develop an infection,” Dr. Patel explained, adding that about 15% of people with an active CSF leak develop meningitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain.

Symptoms Of Cerebrospinal Fluid Leaks

Symptoms of a CSF leak include a watery, clear discharge from the nose or ear, and a headache that is more painful when standing upright than when lying down. If accompanied by nausea, photosensitivity and a stiff neck, an infection may be present. If a CSF leak is not repaired, serious and potentially fatal complications, including meningitis or swelling of the brain, may arise.

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How Are Csf Leaks Treated

Some CSF leaks require a CT scan or a spinal tap for diagnosis, but if you’re able to collect a sample of the liquid, healthcare providers can also test it for a specific protein that’s only present in cerebrospinal fluid.

Once a CSF leak is diagnosed, it can usually be repaired with non-invasive surgery. “In most cases, when there is a nasal leak, we do the surgery entirely through the nosejust like we would do sinus surgery,” Dr. Patel said.

If a leak was caused by trauma or surgery, patching the hole is usually sufficient, Dr. Patel added. But if it was a spontaneous leak, meaning it was caused by a buildup of pressure over time, it’s important to address the underlying cause so another leak doesn’t develop.

“That means there needs to be long-term management of whatever it was that caused that increased pressure,” Dr. Patel explained. “That could mean weight loss, diet changes, or medications that can bring down the pressure.” Some people need to have shunts implanted to regularly drain cerebrospinal fluid and keep their pressure controlled as well.

If your issues with a runny nose persist, however, or if they’re accompanied by other worrisome signs , be sure to get them checked out by your healthcare provider.

How Are Cranial Cerebrospinal Fluid Leaks Diagnosed


Your doctor will perform a history and physical exam. Often, the doctor will examine your nose with an endoscope. Your doctor may also ask you to lean forward for several minutes to see if drainage comes out your nose. If the drainage can be collected, it is often sent for laboratory testing to confirm that it is cerebrospinal fluid. Your ears will also be examined. One or more of the following other tests may be ordered to determine the location of the leak as well as changes in structures and features in the brain or spinal cord area:

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Skull Base Specialists At Uva

At UVA, you’ll find specialists known around the world for their skill at treating conditions like this. We have the tech and the training to perform delicate procedures in your sinuses and brain with a high level of accuracy. Our innovative procedures pose fewer risks and lead to quicker recoveries.

Learn more about our skull base expertise.

How Is The Beta

A simple sample collection may be obtained in the office. However, a minimum of 1 mL of fluid is needed to accurately run the test. So if your doctor cannot collect the full amount in the office, they may send you home with a container to collect it yourself. Once enough fluid is obtained, the specimen can be sent to the laboratory for special testing.

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How Common Are Csf Leaksand How Do They Occur

A spontaneous CSF leak is most common in women of childbearing age, Dr. Patel said, but it can also happen to men and at any age. Overweight individuals are also at increased risk since they tend to have higher blood pressure. Additionally, healthcare providers have noted an increase in CSF leaks due to rising rates of obesitya connection supported by an October 2017 Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology study.

Research has suggested that spontaneous CSF leaks affect at least five out of every 100,000 people each year, and experts believe that many more people may go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for long periods of time.

That number doesn’t include CSF leaks that are caused by trauma. CSF leaks can occur after a head, brain, or spinal surgery, a spinal tap, or any type of injury to the head, per MedlinePlus. Jackson stated that her runny nose, coughing, and sneezing began “a couple years after a traumatic car accident” in which her face hit the dashboard.

Treatment Of Cerebrospinal Fluid Leaks

Woman’s constant runny nose turns out to be brain fluid leak

Some CSF leaks may resolve spontaneously. For CSF leaks that do not heal on their own, surgery is used to repair the problem area. To repair a CSF leak in the sinuses, transnasal, endoscopic surgery is usually performed. The patient’s tissue is used to create a plug that stops the leakage. To repair a CSF leak from the ear, bone removal may be necessary, providing access to the area of concern. The procedure may require the help of a neurosurgeon, and both physicians work together to repair the defect.

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Rapid Treatment For A Full Recovery

Acerebrospinal fluid leak is a condition in which the protective fluidsurrounding the brain the CSF leaks into the sinuses or the ears.

Normallythe brain is a sterile compartment that is separated from the sinuses and theears by a bony separation called the skull base. CSF surrounds the brain andcushions it. A thick, leathery tissue called dura lines the inside of the skull,providing a seal that prevents spinal fluid from escaping. CSF leaks occur whenthere is a breakdown in this barrier.

The duracan be damaged by certain surgeries, head trauma, and tumors. Leaks sometimesoccur spontaneously. Untreated CSF leaks can lead to life-threateningmeningitis, brain infections, or stroke.

UTSouthwestern specialists offer rapid, accurate diagnosis of this dangerouscondition, world-class surgical services to correct it, and pre- andpost-surgical care that optimizes each patients treatment and recovery.

Nasal Sinus Surgery Complication

Cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea is the medical term for a rare condition in which the fluid that normally cushions the brain and spinal cord, cerebrospinal fluid, runs from the nose.

This happens when an abnormal path is inadvertently created between the subarachnoid space of the brain and the nasal sinus cavities, which can be caused by a variety of factors including surgery and trauma.

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How Common Is A Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak

Cerebrospinal fluid leaks are a rare event. Researchers estimate that they occur in about 5 in every 100,000 people. However, they also believe that this is an underestimate and that the true number of people affected remains unknown. They are mostly found in people in their 30s and 40s. CSF leaks are commonly misdiagnosed as migraines, other headache disorders or sinusitis.

Delayed Onset Or Recurrence

Mans Runny Nose Turns Out To Be Leaking Brain Fluid

The delayed onset group is defined as patients with CSF leak presented at least 1 week after trauma. CSF leakage may be delayed even if there is no CSF leakage at first. Usually they can be healed spontaneous or lumbar drainage may be required for further treatment. Even if the CSF leakage was healed, there were also possibility of delayed CSF leakage. There were two reasons of the delayed onset or recurrence of CSF leakage: 1) blood clot disappears 2) separation of dura and arachnoid caused by cerebral edema subsides.15)

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Blunt Injury Of Middle And Posterior Fossa

Fractures that extend from the petrous bone to the middle ear can cause otorrhea if the tympanic membrane is torn. Otorhinorrhea can also occur along to the tract of Eustachian tube. Temporal bone fractures are transverse type in 10% to 30% and longitudinal type in 70% to 90%. Frequencies of CSF fistula are constant regardless of each fracture type. And if a fracture extending from the greater wing of the sphenoid to the sphenoid sinus occurs, a rhinorrhea may also occur, even though it is a middle fossa fracture.

What Exactly Is Cerebrospinal Fluid

“Cerebrospinal fluid is the clear, watery fluid that surrounds and protects the brain,” Dr. Patel said. “It provides some buffering, and it exists at a certain pressure that has to be kept pretty consistent.” That pressure is regulated, in part, by the cardiovascular system, as noted by a November 2018 Nature Communication article. It fluctuates with each heartbeat, and it goes up and down with changing blood pressure. If the pressure around the brain becomes too high, that fluid can wear away at the bone that separates the brain and the noseor the brain and the earand cause a hole where fluid can leak out.

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Also Known As Csf Rhinorrhea

Everyone has experienced a runny nose at some point. Most often, a runny nose is caused by allergies, the common cold, or cold weather.

Very rarely, however, a runny nose can be caused by a condition called cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea, which is when the fluid that surrounds the brain leaks into the nose. CSF rhinorrhea can be caused by an injury or a surgical complication.

This article explains the causes, symptoms, and treatment of CSF rhinorrhea, and how you can tell the difference between a common runny nose and a CSF leak.

What You Need To Know

Health Watch: Man’s Runny Nose Was A Leaking Brain
  • Cerebrospinal fluid is a watery liquid that continually circulates through the brains ventricles and around the surface of the brain and spinal cord.
  • CSF washes out impurities from the brain, transfers nutrients and provides protective cushioning to the brain and spinal cord.
  • The fluid is contained by the meninges, a series of protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.
  • CSF leaks can cause fluid to leak through the ears, through the nose or into the spinal canal.
  • CSF leakage through the ears or nose should be diagnosed and treated quickly and effectively to prevent meningitis, an infection of the meninges.

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What Are The Long Term Side Effects Of Csf Leaks

CSF leaks are often unrecognized and untreated for long periods of times. The most common symptom of delayed diagnosis is simply clear runny discharge associated with positional headaches . However, other side effects include vision changes, ringing in the ear , and nausea. The most dreaded side effect of an undiagnosed and untreated CSF leak is an infection in the brain or spinal cord . Fortunately, meningitis is a rare long term complication and does not happen frequently. However, a timely diagnosis is important so that the CSF leak can be managed appropriately.

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