Can a CSF Leak Affect My Hearing?

CSF Leak

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a clear liquid that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. CSF fluid delivers nutrients to the brain and helps protect the brain by providing a “cushion” inside the skull. Unfortunately, when there is a tear in brain tissue, a CSF leak can occur. When this happens, CSF fluid can escape and leak into other parts of the body, including muscles and connective tissues. Considered to be a serious issue, having a CSF leak can cause complications such as tinnitus, seizures, meningitis, and can even cause hearing loss.

When a CSF leak occurs, a person can experience the following symptoms; headaches, vision changes, nausea, light sensitivity, runny nose, drainage from the ears, and even hypoacousia (partial loss or impaired hearing). CSF leaks will affect the amount of fluid and pressure within the skull, making it drop, which can theoretically affect a person’s inner ear. Unfortunately, CSF leaks are often under-diagnosed. When combined with partial or impaired hearing, it can often be misdiagnosed as Meniere’s disease, due to the similar signs and symptoms that can occur in both conditions. Having an incorrect diagnosis can lead to poor outcomes for a patient, due to undergoing inaccurate testing and treatments, which could be harmful to a person.

It is crucial that you see your doctor immediately if your tinnitus and hearing loss symptoms are accompanied by the following:

• Clear, watery fluid drainage from your nose or ears
• Are experiencing changes in vision
• Have a headache that becomes more painful when in the upright position

Even though this condition can be misdiagnosed, and knowledge may be limited, this condition is not an uncommon one. CSF fluid leaks can affect at least 5 in 100,000 people every year. By seeing a physician, they can administer several tests to locate and diagnose a CSF leak. If you want to have the best outcome and help prevent further complications, take charge of your health, and aim for early diagnosis.

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