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Man's Runny Nose Turns Out To Be Leaking Brain Fluid

May 07, 2013 01:47 PM EDT
Man Blowing Nose
Joe Nagy (not pictured here) thought he had allergies. Turns out, a hole in his brain membrane was leaking brain fluid out his nose.
(Photo : Flickr William Brawley)

After 18 months of a continuously runny nose, Arizona resident Joe Nagy decided he had had enough once a wad of it splashed down onto his model airplane blueprints.

“It was about a teaspoon full,” he told CBS Las Vegas. “Splashed all over the top sheet … I said, ‘These damn allergies.’”

Allergy medication didn’t help, however. As it turned out, what he thought was a sinus problem turned out to be much more severe and eventually required surgery.

in short, Nagy had a hole in his brain membrane and was leaking brain fluid out his nose.

“I was scared to death if you want to know the truth,” he said.

However, as neurosurgeon Peter Nakaji of Barrow Neurological Institute told KSAZ, such holes can be extremely small, like a puncture on a bicycle tire, and since the brain is constantly replenishing its supply of fluid, Nagy wasn’t necessarily in danger.

That changed, however, when Nagy developed meningitis and the fluid became infected. Fortunately, though potentially deadly, Nagy’s body fought back the bug and he was able to undergo the relatively simple surgery, which consisted of applying medical glue over the hole.

“Nowadays we do quite a bit of surgery on the brain and base of the brain through the nose,” Nakaji told CBS. “We never have to cut up the brain. We’re getting a needle up into the space to check it out, and then to put a little bit of glue. This is just a bit of cartilage from the nose that we can repair over it and the body will seal it up.”

Later, after Nagy removed the gauze placed in his nose following the surgery he said he still half expected the run to return.

“I was waiting for the dribble, this leaking because I was so used to it every day,” he said. “I got my hankie. Nothing. It’s never coming back.”

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