Woman discovers her 'runny nose' is actually fluid leaking from her brain

Kendra Jackson
PHOTO: Facebook/Nebraska Medicine

She thought her runny nose was the beginning of a cold, but Kendra Jackson's nasal discharge turned out to be something far more worrying.

The 52-year-old woman from Nebraska had been suffering from coughing, sneezing, and rhinorrhea (excessive muscus from the nose) for the past few years.

And when her runny nose started to worsen in 2015, she decided to seek help.

Most doctors she saw attributed the symptom to allergies and prescribed all kinds of medicine that did not seem to help.

She kept going back and forth to the doctors until a visit to University of Nebraska Medical Center this year found the real reason for her 'runny nose', CNN reported.

What Jackson had thought was nasal discharge was actually cerebrospinal fluid that leaked from a small hole in her skull, a CT scan and lab test revealed. And it was a lot of fluid - up to half a litre a day, Jackson estimates.

Rhinologist at the centre, Dr Christie Barnes, said the whole front of Jackson's shirt would be wet after sleeping while sitting upright in a chair.

Cerebrospinal fluid is a clear fluid that cushions the brain and spinal cord, picks up nutrients from the blood, and removes waste from the brain cells.

If left untreated, cerebrospinal fluid leaks can lead to serious infections such as meningitis.

Having identified the source of the leak, Jackson was wheeled into surgery last month.

With the help of angled instruments and cameras, Dr Barnes and her team used some of Jackson's abdominal fats to plug the hole between her skull and nostrils.

While it is a relatively rare condition, cerebrospinal fluid leaks are usually caused by surgery or trauma, which Jackson's doctors believe could be related to a car accident she had in 2013.

She had hit her face hard on the dashboard when she was rear-ended, KETV-7 ABC reported.

The trauma and increased pressure may have caused a small hole in her skull that grew in size over time, they said.

A month after the surgery, the woman is recovering well and finally has some reprieve from the copious nasal drip.

Jackson said she can now get some sleep, but she still has headaches.

"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. So get to the doctor," she added.