A Nebraska woman suffering with a chronically runny nose for the past two years recently discovered fluid from her brain was leaking out of her nose.
Doctors had dismissed it as allergies whenever Kendra Jackson would bring it up. In March, physician assistant Carla Schneider from Nebraska Medicine in Omaha said it was not allergies at all. It was actually a cerebrospinal fluid leak caused by a hole in her skull. Cerebrospinal fluid acts as a protective layer to the brain. Jackson was losing half a liter of the fluid a day.
Jackson described her runny nose like “a waterfall,” telling ABC affiliate KETV she always kept tissues with her. She also suffered from chronic headaches that made it nearly impossible to sleep. It began after she was in a car crash in 2013, when her face hit the dashboard, CNN reports.
“Kendra said there were times she was even close to suicide because of the issue,” Taylor Wilson, spokesperson for Nebraska Medicine, said in an email to USA TODAY.
Rhinologist Christie Barnes and neurosurgeon Dan Surdell surgically fixed the “potentially dangerous problem” several weeks ago, Nebraska Medicine said in a statement.
If left untreated, the leak could have caused a life-threatening infection, because bacteria from the nose could have passed to the brain.
Brain fluid can also leak out of people’s ears, as in the case of Mark Hoffman, who used to wake up with a wet pillow. Hoffman suffered from a cerebrospinal fluid leak, too. He had surgery to correct the leak last year.
These leaks affect at least five out of every 100,000 people each year, Health reports. That number doesn’t include leaks caused by trauma, like in the case of Jackson.