Your brain and spinal cord sit inside cerebrospinal fluid. This clear liquid offers support and stability to these vital parts of your central nervous system. It also transports oxygen and nutrients to your brain and spinal cord while carrying away the waste each produces.
In a serious car accident, you may rupture the membrane that holds cerebrospinal fluid in place. If that happens, fluid may make its way into your nasal cavities or ear canals. Eventually, you may notice a clear liquid dripping from your nose or ears. Your odds of recovering from a cerebrospinal fluid leak depend on a few factors.
For a minor cerebrospinal fluid leak, doctors may not recommend an invasive procedure. Sometimes, simple bed rest and hydration are enough both to stop the leak and to repair a damaged membrane. Other times, surgeons must operate to fix a cerebrospinal fluid leak.
It may take some time for doctors to diagnose a cerebrospinal fluid leak, as the condition may look much like a sinus or inner ear infection. Delayed treatment, though, may increase your chances of developing a leak-related complication. Alarmingly, meningitis and other serious brain infections often begin as cerebrospinal fluid leaks.
Whether your doctor recommends bed rest or an invasive procedure, you must be careful during your recovery process. When a ruptured membrane is healing, it is susceptible to further injury and infection. Consequently, it is critical you follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. You should also report any new symptoms promptly.
While it is possible to recover from a cerebrospinal fluid leak, the condition is a medical emergency that requires immediate care. Fortunately, you may be able to pursue substantial compensation from the person who caused your injury to help you pay the potentially high costs of diagnosis and treatment.