Back in 2013, Kendra Jackson was in a pretty nasty car accident. The vehicle she was in was hit, hard, from behind. The force of the impact propelled Jackson's head into the dash in front of her. She recovered from her injuries and got on with her life. A few weeks after the crash, however, she came down with a serious case of the sniffles. She'd sneeze, cough and blow her nose throughout the day. In bed, the fluid running down the back of her nose from her sinuses would make her cough and keep her up at night. It had all the hallmarks of a bad cold. But bad colds don't typically last for years at a time. She saw doctors for the problem. They told her that all the stuff running out of her head was likely due to allergies.
Seeking out a second opinion, Jackson discovered that what she thought to be snot was actually due to a cerebrospinal fluid leak (CSF): her head was leaking brain fluid.
"This fluid serves the function of providing mechanical protection of the brain through cushioning or buffering, as well as playing a role in its immunologic protection," Dr. Brad Marple, chair of otolaryngology at the University of Texas Southwestern's Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute, told Newsweek.
"Normally, it is contained within the water-tight confines of the skull, but occasionally an area of disruption can develop between the intracranial cavity and air-filled spaces within the skull. The sinuses are examples of air-filled spaces within the skull that share a thin common wall with the intracranial cavity and serve as a common route for a CSF leak. Under these circumstances, CSF can drip from the nose and be mistaken for a runny nose."
Apparently a CSF can heal on its own, but with the way that the leak in Jackson's head was impacting her life (you gotta sleep, man), doctors felt that an intervention would do her some good. Using a tiny camera and medical instruments to get at the site of the leak inside of Jackson's head, they used fatty tissues from around the CSF to plug it up.
Having read this, have fun trying to convince yourself that it's only a cold the next time you get a runny nose.
Image via Flickr, courtesy of _DJ_