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Man's Runny Nose Turns Out To Be Leaking Brain Fluid

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A man’s Thanksgiving dinner last year was “ruined” because of his runny nose. After years of having trouble with it, he found out that it wasn’t runny nose at all but brain fluid leaking out of his nose.

Runny Nose

For five years, Greg Phillpotts dealt with the "runny nose" that would just suddenly leak out of his nose in random situations. Last year, he was just standing in the kitchen and preparing Thanksgiving dinner for his family when fluid from his nose leaked into the food. 

He initially thought that it was merely allergies, and in fact, doctors have even previously diagnosed him with pneumonia and bronchitis. He was already used to the condition that he would just stuff tissues up into his nose.  

Leaking Brain Fluid

This past February when he was coughing all night, he realized that he had to have it fixed. That was when he saw Dr. Alfred Iloreta at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, and they quickly found out that his runny nose wasn’t pneumonia or bronchitis at all, but cerebrospinal fluid leak (CSF). Simply put, he was leaking brain fluid from his nose.

Phillpotts’ problem was finally fixed after doctors performed a minimally invasive procedure on his skull.

Have you ever been so congested that you can't breathe? All of sudden you can breathe again and what a relief that was!” said Phillpotts.

Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak

CSF happens when there is a tear in the membranes surrounding the brain or spine, allowing the fluid to escape and leak out through the nasal passage. Some cases of CSF are a result of injury such as spine surgery or head trauma, but in other cases, it is spontaneous without clear cause.

Some common symptoms of CSF include drainage from the nose or ears, a salty or metallic taste in the mouth, changes in hearing, loss of sense of smell, and sense of drainage in the back of the throat.

Many CSF leaks heal on their own, but some may require treatments such as surgery or an epidural blood patch.

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