In a case that is sure to make anyone with the sniffles second-guess what exactly is causing their congestion, a 52-year-old Nebraska woman who complained of a runny nose was recently diagnosed with a brain fluid leak. Kendra Jackson of Omaha believed she had a nagging cold that just wouldn’t go away, but after two years of allergy-like symptoms, doctors decided to take a closer look. They quickly discovered that her condition was snot what they had assumed. Jackson was suffering an ongoing brain fluid leak thanks to small hole in her skull.
Jackson’s sniffles began a couple of years after she was involved in a car accident. The accident caused Jackson’s face to strike the dashboard, and as CNN reports, she has suffered serious headaches ever since. Her runny nose began years later, and doctors didn’t initially believe there was any possible connection. Now it seems they were wrong.
Jackson’s symptoms were pretty severe, with a constant drip from her nose that would soak her shirt as she slept. She was prescribed a myriad of medications aimed at curbing her “cold” but nothing helped. Eventually, doctors requested a CT scan of Jackson’s skull which revealed that the actual cause of her symptoms was a small hole causing brain fluid to leak into her sinuses.
What she thought was just snot was actually cerebrospinal fluid, which is never meant to leave the brain case. The fluid provides a buffer for the brain to protect it from the hard insides of the skull, but in this particular case doctors believe it found its way out thanks to the damage Jackson sustained in the car crash years earlier.
Surgeons were able to correct the condition by blocking the hole using tissue. After the repair, Jackson reported that the drip had halted, and that her sleep and overall quality of life has improved. However, she still suffers from the headaches which began after her accident.
“For people who hear my story, if they’re tasting a very salty taste and something’s draining in the back of your throat, it’s probably something other than allergies,” Jackson says. “So get to the doctor.”