Persistent dripping or draining from the nose is a concerning symptom and has a possible connection to an acoustic neuroma.
This brain tumor almost always affects just one ear and is benign and slow growing.
The common cold will not cause prolonged or persistent draining from the nose.
Plus, a cold or common sinus infection will produce what appears to be the same gunk and goop that’s always drained out of your nose in the past from benign infections.
But ongoing dripping out of the nose that doesn’t look like typical runny mucus is of concern.
Some people fear that this clear watery discharge (usually from one nostril) might be from a cancerous brain tumor.
“As a neurotologist who treats skull base lesions, my immediate concern when mentioning ‘dripping from the nose’ is a brain fluid (CSF, cerebrospinal fluid) leak,” says Ted McRackan, MD, MSCR, Director, Skull Base Center; Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina.
“This is not common for an acoustic neuroma before having surgery,” continues Dr. McRackan.
“However, a CSF leak is a known, but rare, complication of acoustic neuroma surgery. This can present as a persistent dripping of clear fluid from the nose (especially when bending over) or from the surgical incision.”
When a CSF leak, which causes draining or dripping from the nose, is not from an acoustic neuroma, it can cause symptoms that mimic those from this benign growth:
• Hearing loss
• Tinnitus (“ringing” in the ear)
Other Causes of Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak Include Malignant Tumor
A sinus or nasal tumor, normally referred to as a paranasal tumor, can cause persistent drainage from the nose plus other symptoms such as excessive watering of one eye, voice changes and a new palpable lump on or near the nose. About half of paranasal tumors are cancerous.
Non-malignant additional causes of a CSF leak include skull fracture, brain surgery and intracranial hypertension, and in some cases there is no known cause.
If the drainage or dripping from your nose is also accompanied by symptoms such as a reduced sense of smell, nausea, vomiting, a headache that gets better lying down, draining from an ear, and/or a salty or metallic taste in the mouth – your doctor is not going to suspect that an acoustic neuroma is the cause.
In addition to acoustic neuroma, Dr. McRackan’s clinical practice focuses on comprehensive management of ear, hearing, balance and skull base disorders. Areas of interest include cochlear implants, facial nerve disorders and tumors, vertigo and endoscopic ear surgery.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.