Automotive safety has come a long way in the last 50 years. While crumple zones, airbags, seat belts and other safety features may decrease your chances of suffering a catastrophic injury in a motor vehicle accident, virtually nothing can eliminate the risk.
Traumatic brain injuries are not exactly rare in car accidents. While some TBIs are minor, you should treat a cerebrospinal fluid leak as a medical emergency.
What is cerebrospinal fluid?
Cerebrospinal fluid is a waterlike substance that surrounds your brain and spinal cord. Not only does this fluid provide some cushion for the delicate parts of your central nervous system, but it also delivers oxygen and vital nutrients to your brain.
How do cerebrospinal fluid leaks develop?
A thin membrane keeps your cerebrospinal fluid in place. The force of a car accident may cause this membrane to break. If that happens, cerebrospinal fluid may enter your nasal cavities and ear canals, eventually dripping from your nose or ears.
Why are cerebrospinal fluid leaks dangerous?
If you have a cerebrospinal fluid leak, your brain and spinal cord may not receive the nutrients they need to perform optimally. Your brain may also begin to sag inside your skull. Even worse, according to Cedars-Sinai Hospital, a cerebrospinal leak may lead to paralysis, meningitis and other serious complications.
From bedrest to invasive surgery, doctors have a variety of options for treating cerebrospinal fluid leaks and minimizing the risk of life-threatening complications. Ultimately, though, because early diagnosis is critical, you should seek immediate medical treatment if you believe you may have developed a cerebrospinal fluid leak.