After an accident, traumatic brain injuries are among the most common. A skull fracture may extend to the sinuses or cause pressure to build up in the brain. Depressed fractures may also cause a hole or tear.
According to Mayo Clinic, if you experience clear fluid draining from your nose or ears, you may have a cerebrospinal fluid leak.
What is cerebrospinal fluid?
Your CSF is fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The purpose of CSF fluid is to cushion your brain and spine from injury. If you have a tear in the membranes surrounding the fluid, you may experience a leak. When left untreated, you may develop meningitis or air may enter the spaces around the brain.
What are the symptoms of a CSF leak?
There are two types of CSF leaks: spinal and cranial leaks. Generally, spinal leaks occur with damage to the spine, whereas cranial leaks may occur due to a head injury.
One of the first signs of a spinal CSF leak is the headache. You may have pain in the back of the head that improves only when you lay down. Often, the ache becomes worse when you cough or strain yourself. You may also experience a ringing in your ears, changes in hearing, nausea or changes in behavior and cognition.
When you have a CSF leak due to a head injury, you may experience the drainage only on one side of your head. The fluid may be accompanied by a metallic taste in your mouth and hearing loss.
You may need surgery or a blood patch to cover the hole to repair a leak. Any sign of a CSF leak requires medical attention.