After a motor vehicle accident, you could suffer a severe injury without recognizing the symptoms. You could have a cerebrospinal fluid leak if you experience clear fluid draining from your nose or ears.
According to Mayo Clinic, cerebrospinal fluid surrounds your spinal cord and brain to protect them from injury.
How do CSF leaks occur?
During a car accident, head, neck, face and spine injuries can cause CSF leaks. Injuries involving your ears, temples sinuses, nose or skull base have a higher chance of draining CSF fluid. Whiplash is one of the most common injuries following a car accident. The twisting and jolting of your head can force tears to occur near the spinal cord. Any penetrating trauma to your face, head or neck could cause a CSF leak.
What are the symptoms of a CSF leak?
One of the most alarming symptoms is a clear fluid. If you have thin, clear fluid draining from your nose or ears, you must seek medical help immediately. Wipe your nose on a cloth to tell the difference between a runny nose and CSF fluid. CSF fluid does not cause the tissue or cloth to become stiff when dries. It also drains when you bend over or tip your head down.
Patients with CSF leaks may lose their sense of smell, and experience double vision, seizures, neck pain, vertigo, hearing loss or headaches. In addition, you might find it challenging to maintain your balance.
Physicians use imaging tests to locate the tear or damage to test for a CSF leak. Sometimes, the physician may also test the fluid to check for the cause.