A Nebraska woman battled battled an unusual runny nose and sniffling for years, receiving treatment for chronic allergies and cursing the incessant dripping — but never suspecting the real cause.
Kendra Jackson didn't have a cold, nor did she have years-long allergies. She had a brain-fluid leak.
Jackson, 52, suffered extreme headaches, sneezing and sleepless nights for five years. She made numerous trips to the doctors but every time she went for a treatment, she was told it was an allergy and nothing else.
However, the symptoms persisted and started getting worse with time. While explaining the ordeal she said, at times her nose ran “like a waterfall, continuously, and then it would run to the back of my throat.”
“Everywhere I went. I always had a box of Puffs, always stuffed in my pocket,” she added.
That is when Jackson suspected that something was really wrong and her illness was not just a seasonal allergy.
A doctor at Nebraska Medicine realized the severity of the issue and sent a sample of the fluid of Jackson’s runny nose for a laboratory test. The test result showed that the fluid was not mucus, but cerebrospinal fluid, which bathes the brain and spinal cord and cushions them.
Jackson was then diagnosed with a cerebrospinal fluid leak. It happens when CSF leaks from the skull and paves its way out through the nose. It may occur due to a head injury, surgery, a tumor or can even occur spontaneously from an unknown cause.
Doctors told Jackson that she was leaking almost half a liter of the fluid each day.
“One of the things she said that stuck out to me was that she would wake up and her entire shirt would be covered with this drainage from her nose. That is not normal. That's not allergies at all,” said Carla Schneider, a physician assistant at Nebraska Medicine.
She added, “CSF helps to create a buffer for the brain so if the brain moves it doesn't hit against something hard.”
To fix her unusual illness, Jackson had to undergo a minimally invasive surgery.
Jackson said that the symptoms started appearing after a car accident in 2013. During the accident, she suffered a broken shoulder and hit her face on the dashboard. She added the symptoms intensified with time and after two-and-a-half years started becoming unbearable.
“I was so healthy up until I had the car accident. My body was changing, my lifestyle was changing. I couldn't sleep, I can't smell and I had to carry a box of tissues with me everywhere. Even in my own kitchen, when I went to pull something out of the oven, I had to plug my nose up,” she said.
Despite the delays in diagnosis, Jackson’s condition was fortunately treated in time. If left untreated she could have developed meningitis, an often-deadly inflammation of the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Suhaib Salem