Depending on the cause of the leak, many cases go away on their own after a few days. Complete bed rest for several days is usually recommended.
Headache may be treated with pain relievers and fluids. If the headache lasts longer than a week after a lumbar puncture, a procedure may be done to block the hole that may be leaking fluid. This is called a blood patch, because a blood clot can be used to clog the leak. In most cases, this makes symptoms go away. Rarely, surgery is needed to repair a tear in the dura and stop the headache.
If symptoms of infection occur (fever, chills, change in mental status), antibiotic therapy is needed.
The outlook is usually good depending on the cause. Most cases heal by themselves with no lasting symptoms.
Complications may occur if the cause is surgery or trauma. Infections can cause serious complications, such as swelling of the brain.
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Call your health care provider if:
- You have a headache that gets worse when you sit up, especially if you have recently had a head injury, surgery, or childbirth involving epidural anesthesia.
- You have a moderate head injury, and then develop a headache along with a thin, clear fluid draining from your nose or ear.
Review Date : 9/22/2008
Reviewed By : Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.