Photo: Aundrea Aragon was leaking brain fluid while doctors told her it was allergies
An Arizona woman could have died after doctors diagnosed her with simple “allergies” rather than what turned out to be a much more serious condition.
For months, Aundrea Aragon, a 35-year-old mother of three living in Tucson, experienced something very unusual. Each time she bent forward the left side of her nose would not just drip, but pour out a clear liquid.
For more than four months, she struggled with what doctors who kept telling her she just had allergy issues.
It took several trips to different doctors before the cause of the leaking fluid was determined. After finally obtaining a referral to specialists at the University of Arizona, it was revealed that the liquid pouring out of her nose was actually cerebral spinal fluid and it was leaking from two small cracks in the back wall of her sphenoid sinus.
Most often, surgeons repair such cracks, which are caused by cerebral pressure, through craniotomies, resulting in painful recoveries, extensive scarring and possible side effects.
The experienced UA surgeons took a different approach and were able to fix Aragon’s leaks with a procedure through her nose resulting in a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery.
Using tissue from inside her nose as well as a small piece of belly fat, Drs. Alexander G. Chiu and Michael Lemole were able to repair the cracks and stop the leak.
“I was scared to death and desperate,’’ Aragon said. “I knew it could not be allergies. The fluid would come out like a puddle.’’
Steroids and antibiotics did nothing. “I was walking around with toilet paper shoved up my nose and changing it every 10 minutes,’’ she recalled.
While the human body replaces brain fluid, Aragon was at risk for developing a lethal infection, as the dirtiest part of the body – the nose – was now in direct contact with the cleanest – the brain.
“If you are leaking brain fluid out your nose then you have the potential for catastrophic meningitis, the kind where bacteria crawls into your brain and 24 hours later you are essentially in a coma or dead,’’ Dr. Lemole said. “That is what we worry about in these cases.”
Aragon is said to be recovering well, and is happy to be home with her husband and children – Art, 16, Marc, 10, and Reina, 9.
The happy mother recently posted about the success of her Oct. 1 surgery on Facebook.
“I am so grateful to them for everything they have done for us,’’ said Aragon. “I had great care from a great staff,” she said. “I’m here, and I am grateful I can take care of my kids.”