A traumatic brain injury involves an interruption of normal brain activity due to an external force. While it is possible to suffer a TBI in other ways, motor vehicle accidents are the second-leading cause of them. In fact, about 20% of TBI-related hospitalizations happen after car crashes.
Some types of TBI are minor, while others may be life-threatening. A TBI-related cerebrospinal fluid leak falls into the latter category. Consequently, if you suspect you may have a leak of this vital fluid, you should seek emergency medical care immediately.
The importance of cerebrospinal fluid
Cerebrospinal fluid surrounds your brain and spinal cord. Not only does this fluid offer support, but it also delivers oxygen and vital nutrients while carrying away potentially toxic waste. A three-layer membrane, the meninges, encases cerebrospinal fluid to prevent it from leaking into your ear or nasal cavities.
The risk of meninges rupture
Even though the membrane that holds your cerebrospinal fluid in place has three layers, it is quite thin. If you bump your head during a motor vehicle accident, the force of the impact may be enough to tear your meninges. Furthermore, even absent a blow to the head, internal brain movement during a collision may cause your meninges to rupture.
The danger of misdiagnosis
Because the cerebrospinal fluid is clear and water-like, you may think you have a runny nose or water in your ear. Doctors may also diagnose a cerebrospinal fluid leak as normal discharge. Still, if you have ruptured meninges or a cerebrospinal fluid leak, you may be vulnerable to a serious infection in your central nervous system. You may also sustain brain damage or develop paralysis.
While a cerebrospinal fluid leak is a serious matter, you should not let fear or anxiety dissuade you from obtaining treatment. After all, doctors typically have a variety of methods to stop the leak and restore you to good health.