Car accidents can result in a variety of serious injuries, some of which may be less obvious, like a cerebrospinal fluid leak. Your CSF remains contained by a three-layer membrane known as your meninges. During the impact of an accident, the meninges can rupture and cause the fluid to flow to your nose and ears.
To reduce the risk of serious consequences, patients must undergo treatment for the tear as quickly as possible.
About five in every 100,000 people have a CSF leak per year. Given its rarity, many people mistake a persistent headache after an accident for whiplash or a mild concussion. However, if you have a persistent headache that worsens when standing or sitting and improves when sitting down, you could have a CSF leak. The pain occurs because the leak disrupts the fluid pressure around the brain.
Clear fluid drainage
Clear fluid draining from your nose or ears after an accident may be one of the most revealing symptoms. The fluid resembles clear water but is your cerebrospinal fluid. If you notice any drainage, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Tinnitus and visual disturbances
CSF leaks can affect your ears and your eyes. As the fluid pressure changes, it affects the inner ear and may cause ringing or buzzing in your ears. Likewise, you may also experience sudden double or blurred vision.
Many symptoms of CSF leaks overlap with symptoms of other injuries. Seeking medical attention directly following an accident can help you receive a timely diagnosis before complications occur.