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What you need to know about cerebrospinal fluid after an accident

Wearing a safety-rated riding helmet is one of the more effective ways to prevent a serious head injury when cycling in or around Los Angeles. In fact, in 55 studies overly a nearly 30-year period, helmet usage reduced head injury by 48% and serious head injury by 60%. 

Even with a helmet, you may suffer a traumatic brain injury or another head injury in a bicycle accident. If you hit your head during a crash, you should watch for a cerebrospinal fluid leak to appear.  

What is cerebrospinal fluid?

Cerebrospinal fluid is a clear and water-like fluid that surrounds your spinal cord and brain. This fluid serves two important functions. 

Not only does it protects your brain and spinal cord from injury during impacts, but your cerebrospinal fluid also deliveries nutrients to your brain and helps remove waste. 

If you are healthy, there is no reason you should ever see cerebrospinal fluid outside your body.  

Why does cerebrospinal fluid leak?

Cerebrospinal fluid stays in place because of connective tissue. If this tissue tears or ruptures, cerebrospinal fluid may leak into surrounding areas. 

Even when wearing a bicycle helmet, a blow to your head may cause a tear in the connective tissue.  

How common are cerebrospinal fluid leaks?

While cerebrospinal fluid leaks are rare, doctors may misdiagnose them as migraines, sinus infections or concussions. Nevertheless, if you have clear fluid running from your nose or ears, you probably want to ask a neurologist to determine if you have a cerebrospinal fluid leak. 

Because a cerebrospinal leak may affect your brain and spinal cord, you should treat a possible one as a medical emergency. Simply put, seeking immediate medical care is critical to prevent potentially life-threatening harm.