Aundrea Aragon, a Tucson, Arizona woman, had running nose for four months. Doctors believed that it was caused by allergies. She could have died before it was discovered that the clear fluid coming from her nose was brain fluid.
ABC News reports that at first, she did not question doctors who said she was having allergies. According to Aragon, only one doctor mentioned the possibility of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak but even the doctor quickly dismissed it and prescribed a nasal spray.
Aragon said: "In the meantime, I was literally drinking this fluid and my chest was hurting. I was waking up choking on the liquid. I thought I had pneumonia. I was walking around my house with paper towels shoved up my nose and changing it every 10 minutes."
She returned to the hospital when the nasal spray failed to work. Fluid from her nose was collected and sent for analysis. The results confirmed that the fluid was cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). She was then referred to the University of Arizona Medical Center.
ABC News reports that before she was referred to UA, the clear, tasteless fluid had dripped through her nose for more than four months. ABC News reports she said: "It wasn't even dripping, it was pouring out of my nose. If I looked down or bent over, it would literally pore out of the left side of my nose. I had no control at all."
She said: “I was scared to death and desperate. I knew it could not be allergies. The fluid would come out like a puddle.’’ She added: "I am still kind of in shock. I was very fortunate.They said I could get meningitis and go into a coma and die."
University of Arizona surgeons discovered two small cracks in the back of her sphenoid sinus caused by cerebral pressure. The fluid leaked through the crack and through her nose.
According to ABC News, Dr. Alexander G. Chiu, chief of the division of otolaryngology at UA, said Aragon's condition is rare and that it affects only 1 in 200,000 patients. The Huffington Post reports the condition is also known as CSF rhinorrhea.
According to the Daily Mail, symptoms can include, headaches, blurry vision, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, tinnitus, tingling in the limbs, and weakness of facial muscles.
Dr.Chiu said most cases are seen in overweight patients with high cranial pressure. It may also occur in cases of a car accident or a trauma to the head.
Chiu said: "In her case, it was more of a freak thing." He explained that the main danger was not from the loss of fluid but infection. He said: "You are constantly making brain fluid. It can be fatal when there is a connection between the cleanest part of the body, the brain, and the dirtiest part, the nose."
Fox News reports the surgeon explained the condition put her at a risk of developing meningitis, a disease in which bacteria enters the brain, leading to inflammation of brain membranes, coma and death.
According to Fox News, Chiu and his colleague, neurosurgeon Dr. G. Michael Lemole, at the University of Arizona, treated Aragon's condition without using an invasive procedure called craniotomy that is often painful and risky. Instead of a craniotomy, the surgeons performed an endoscopic procedure through her nose and used an image-guided neronavigation and fluorescein dye to locate the cracks. Then they used tissue from her nose and some of her belly fat to repair the cracks.
According to ABC News, the University of Arizona is the only medical center that performs the endoscopic procedure regularly. The procedure is safer and has a higher success rate. According Chiu, the success rate is as high as about 95 to 99 percent, compared to only 60 percent using craniotomy.
Aragon is now recovering quickly and she is back at home with her family. She recently posted about her experience to her Facebook page. She said: “I am so grateful to [the UA surgeons] for everything they have done for us. I had great care from a great staff. I’m here, and I am grateful I can take care of my kids.”
The Daily Mail reports she has two sons Art, 16, ten-year-old Marc and a nine-year-old daughter Reina, who has autism.
Aragon, who is a Jehovah's Witness, said: "The doctors were wonderful and so respectful of my religion. They never rushed me and answered all my questions and explained everything -- even my dumb questions. I feel so much better. I was very, very fortunate."
Jehovah's Witnesses are not allowed to use blood or blood products.