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Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

A cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak happens when there is a tear in the membrane (dura) that contains the fluid. CSF surrounds and cushions your brain and spinal cord. Treatment will depend on the location and size of your leak.



  • You may receive medicines to help you not cough and vomit. You may also receive medicines to help soften bowel movements so that you do not strain.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider in 7 days or as directed:

You may need more tests or treatment. Write down your questions so that you remember to ask them at your visits.


In order to decrease pressure and allow your CSF leak to heal on its own, you will need to do the following:

  • Stay in bed with your head raised on pillows.
  • Do not blow your nose.
  • Avoid coughing.
  • Avoid vomiting.
  • Avoid straining when you have a bowel movement.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your headaches become worse.
  • You have a fever.
  • You become confused.
  • You have a seizure.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.