A clear liquid that surrounds the spinal cord and the brain, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) helps cushion the brain inside the skull and is responsible for delivering nutrients. However, when there is a tear in the brain tissue, CSF fluid can escape. A CSF leak can leak into other parts of the body, and even into your connective tissue and muscles. Having a CSF leak is a serious issue, as it can cause complications such as seizures, meningitis, headaches, changes in vision, tinnitus, and even hearing loss. The symptoms of a CSF leak include headache (which worsens when the head is upright), dizziness, runny nose, light sensitivity, nausea, hypoacousia (impaired or partial loss of hearing), and drainage from the ears. Having a CSF leak and hearing loss is also a common symptom of this condition.
An under-diagnosed medical condition, a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak causes the pressure and the volume of fluid in the skull to drop and can also theoretically affect the inner ear by lowering the pressure. With signs and symptoms similar to those of Meniere’s disease, this condition could possibly be misdiagnosed. A CSF leak and hearing loss are more likely to go hand in hand then having a headache, which is likely due to the lowering of CSF pressure, resulting in a pattern that closely resembles Meniere’s disease.
If your hearing loss and tinnitus symptoms are accompanied by changes in vision, a headache that worsens when in the upright position, and have a clear, watery fluid draining for your ears or nose, see your doctor immediately. While knowledge of CSF leaks may be limited, this condition is not uncommon and affects at least 5 in 100,000 people every year. A physician can utilize a number of tests to diagnose and locate the CSF leak, and having an early diagnosis can lead to better treatment outcomes and prevent further complications.