When car accidents happen in the U.S., they often leave drivers and passengers with some type of injury. In fact, about 4.4 million Americans require emergency medical care to diagnose and treat the injuries they suffer in collisions on U.S. roadways every single year.
While some car accident injuries are minor, others are catastrophic. An injury that causes a cerebrospinal fluid leak falls into the latter category. Consequently, if you have clear liquid discharge from your ears or nose after a crash, you should go to the emergency room immediately.
Cerebrospinal fluid is critical for your brain’s health
Your brain is the nerve center of your body, as it controls all bodily functions with the help of your spinal cord. Both your brain and spinal cord sit in cerebrospinal fluid, which stays in place behind a three-layered membrane. This fluid is critical for the health of your nervous system, as it delivers oxygen and nutrients while removing toxic waste.
A car accident may rupture your meninges
The meninges is the three-layer membrane that encases your cerebrospinal fluid. If you hit your head during a car accident, the impact may be sufficient to rupture your meninges. Even rapid head movement without an impact may cause meningeal damage. If damage to your meninges allows cerebrospinal fluid to leak, your brain and spinal cord may be vulnerable to additional long-term or irreversible injuries.
You may not notice you have a possible cerebrospinal fluid leak until hours or even days after a car accident. Fortunately, because doctors have a variety of ways to stop these leaks and protect your central nervous system, obtaining treatment as soon as possible may improve your odds of recovering completely.