ENT Head & Neck Surgery Center

Rm 02, 5/F., Kai Seng Commerical Centre,
4-6 Hankow Road, TST Kln, HK
(near Kowloon Hotel)
Tel: (852) 3100 0555
Fax: (852) 3100 0556

Lawrence Chow / ENT Doctor

What is Nasal Leak and Its Symptoms?

Most of us dismiss a runny nose as a simple cold that will go away on its own. However, there are cases where it doesn’t go away and that should tell you to seek medical attention right away.



While it’s rare, what some folks initially thought to be a runny nose is actually a nasal leak. Its layman’s name might not sound like much but its technical term, cerebrospinal fluid leak, might just make you realize that it’s a serious condition.



Also referred to as the CSF leak, this is a condition where brain fluid leaks through the ear or nose. It happens when a tear is made in the dura or the thin outer membrane that contains the fluid. This is usually caused by injury or trauma but in some cases, it can also be quite spontaneous. In most cases, folks who experience CSF leaks have it because of prior head trauma.



The said fluid is the same one that circulates around the brain and spinal cord. It serves as cushioning to your brain, relieving pressure to the vital organ. Experts say that a person with a nasal leak can lose about half a liter of brain fluid in a day.



Nasal Leak Symptoms

How do will you know if you’re experiencing CSF leak? The most major sign that you should be wary of is a clear, watery drainage from your nose. As mentioned above, nasal leaks are usually confused with a runny nose because they have similar characteristics. However, colds should only last two to three weeks while nasal leaks tend to last longer as they don’t necessarily go away.



If this cold followed some time after head trauma, you should also suspect a nasal leak. While the condition is still considered to be quite rare, it’s not a completely scarce condition. In fact, support groups for patients have already been formed so it’s quite safe to say that this condition isn’t a one in one billion occurrence.



The increase in drainage should also clue you in that you’re suffering from a nasal leak. If the outward flow of the fluid increases when the head is tilted downwards, then, there’s a good chance that you’re suffering from a CSF leak and not just a runny nose.



It should also be noted, however, that CSF leaks can also come out of a patient’s ear. The condition is similar to nasal leaks in all regards except for where the fluid exits the head.



CSF leak also tends to come with the following symptoms as a result of the decrease in the amount of fluid around the brain:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Neck pain
  • Sense of imbalance
  • Sensitivity to light and sounds



Treating CSF Nasal Leak

A case of CSF leak will make the sufferer at risk of meningitis. This is why it’s crucial to learn how to treat the condition right away.



Fortunately, some cases heal on its own. However, there are others that will need a surgery to fix. This is why it’s imperative that you see an ENT specialist right away if you suspect that you’re having a nasal leak. For appointment to consult our ENT specialist, please contact HK ENT Specialist Ltd. which is a professional Hong Kong based ENT clinic centre offering ENT services.




HK ENT Specialist Ltd.

Hong Kong based ENT clinic centre

For ENT Services, Audiology & Speech Therapy,

Sleep Disordered Breathing Management,

Hearing Aid Prescription & Medical Cosmetic Services


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