Your brain and spinal cord are critical parts of your central nervous system, as they control every thought you have and every movement you make. These organs sit inside cerebrospinal fluid, which is a clear liquid that delivers nutrients, removes waste and provides support.
Your cerebrospinal fluid should remain in place. If it leaks, you may be vulnerable to a variety of potentially life-threatening complications. Regrettably, car accidents are a leading cause of cerebrospinal fluid leaks, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
How do car accidents cause cerebrospinal fluid leaks?
Your cerebrospinal fluid stays in place behind a thin three-layer membrane, known as the meninges. Head trauma, like a blow to your head during a car accident, may cause your meninges to rupture. Even rapid deceleration that smashes your brain into your skull may be sufficient to cause a meninges tear and subsequent cerebrospinal fluid leak.
What are the symptoms of a cerebrospinal fluid leak?
According to the Cedars Sinai Health Network, a cerebrospinal fluid leak may present itself in a few different ways. While a clear fluid may drip from your nose or ears, you may also have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Chronic headache
- Shoulder pain
What complications can a cerebrospinal fluid leak cause?
If you have a cerebrospinal fluid leak, your brain and spinal cord may not receive the nutrients they need to thrive. You may also be vulnerable to meningitis or another potentially life-threatening infection.
Because cerebrospinal fluid leaks share symptoms with many other ailments, doctors routinely misdiagnose them. Ultimately, you may need to be persistent with your physician to ensure you receive the correct diagnosis and treatment plan.