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Why do doctors often misdiagnose cerebrospinal fluid leaks?

Your cerebrospinal fluid is vital for your overall health. This fluid, which surrounds your brain and spinal cord, holds nutrients for your central nervous system. It also helps to remove the waste your brain and spinal cord produce.

If you have a cerebrospinal fluid leak, you may be vulnerable to serious and life-changing complications, such as seizures, brain infections or even paralysis. Regrettably, doctors routinely misdiagnose cerebrospinal fluid leaks.

What are the symptoms of a cerebrospinal fluid leak?

According to Johns Hopkins University, cerebrospinal fluid leaks have the same symptoms as many other common ailments. If you have one or more of the following, you may have a cerebrospinal fluid leak:

  • Clear liquid discharge from your nose or ears
  • Headache
  • Shoulder or neck pain
  • Vision problems
  • Tinnitus

Because cerebrospinal fluid leaks often share symptoms with less serious conditions, your doctor may think you do not need treatment for one. Delayed treatment, though, increases your odds of developing health-related complications.

How do cerebrospinal fluid leaks develop?

Cerebrospinal fluid leaks occur when something causes the membrane that holds the fluid in place to break. Automobile accidents, falls, physical assaults, traumatic brain injuries and workplace accidents may contribute to cerebrospinal fluid leaks.

What can you do about a misdiagnosis?

If you believe your doctor has misdiagnosed your cerebrospinal fluid leak, you should seek a second opinion. You may also need to see a medical specialist, such as a neurologist or audiologist. Keeping a journal of your symptoms, including when they worsen and improve, may boost your chances of obtaining the correct diagnosis.

You may need to be persistent to find the right diagnosis and treatment plan for a cerebrospinal fluid leak. Ultimately, though, if your doctor misses the diagnosis, you may be eligible for financial compensation for the additional injuries you suffer.

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