Doctors discover fluid leaking out woman’s nose was from her brain

Eric Pfeiffer

It's flu season, but after reading this story, you can never ignore another runny nose again.

An Arizona woman survived a close brush with death after doctors discovered what was previously believed to be a runny nose brought on by allergies was actually fluid leaking from her brain.

"It wasn't even dripping, it was pouring out of my nose," Aragon told ABC News. "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."

For four months, doctors told 35-year-old Aundrea Aragon was simply suffering from severe allergies. But after literally walking around with tissue stuffed up her nose, Aragon eventually went to an urgent care facility.

Stunned doctors at the facility told Aragon that the clear, tasteless fluid dripping from her nose was in fact a cerebrospinal fluid leak.

The condition is rare, only affecting about 1 in 100,000 individuals, which is likely why health officials initially dismissed Aragon's condition as a cold. But her life was literally in jeopardy during those four months, as doctors said individuals suffering from the condition are prone to infections, which can prove deadly.

"You are constantly making brain fluid," Dr. Alexander G. Chiu told ABC. "It can be fatal when there is a connection between the cleanest part of the body, the brain, and the dirtiest part, the nose."

"You should have seen [the doctor's] face, when he tried to be expressionless,"  Aragon said.

However, Aragon's luck finally turned around. For years, treatment for her condition was painful and dangerous.

"We retract the brain and pull in backward, taking out the frontal lobes and lift them out of the way and patch up the belly of the brain," Chiu said. "Now, we go right through the nose — like going under the car to fix the carburetor."

Doctors at the University of Arizona's College of Medicine began the procedure by injecting fluid into Aragon's spinal fluid in order to locate the source of the leak.

Thankfully, Aragon has fully recovered from her surgery, telling ABC, "I feel much better," but doctors say they still want to keep a close eye on her.

"She's not leaking anymore, but we have to make sure she doesn't spring a new leak," Chiu said.