What is it?

Cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea, or CSF leak, is when the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord leaks from the nostrils. The CSF protects and supports the brain and spinal cord from injury.
When a big amount of CSF leaks out of the brain, the intracranial pressure drops. If that occurs, the brain may put pressure on the lower parts of the brain and cause symptoms. CSF leak may be caused due to injuries to the face, head, neck or spine, Marfan syndrome, intracranial hypertension, pseudotumor cerebri, obesity or structural defects.

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Signs & symptoms

A small leak may not cause any symptoms, or only runny nose. If intracranial pressure drops symptoms may include headache which worsens when sitting or standing up, loss of sense of smell, blurred or double vision, hearing loss, tinnitus, seizures, neck pain, vomiting, nausea, vertigo, loss of appetite, photophobia and balance problems.


Diagnosis is based upon findings from medical history and physical examination. Further evaluation may include imaging tests and lab tests of the fluid.


Treatment depends on the underlying cause and may include only rest, medications, blood patch injection, and surgical procedures.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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