AKRON, Indiana — An Indiana man got a shocking diagnosis after more than 10 years of dealing with a mysterious condition.
TODAY reports that Mark Hoffman, 53, said starting back in 2006, his right ear and pillow were wet when he got up in the morning. The problem happened off and on until last year, when his ear started leaking all the time.
He said he went through nearly 5,000 cotton balls trying to soak up the liquid.
Hoffman saw several doctors over the years, but none were able to give him a diagnosis. Then last summer, he finally learned what was wrong.
A hole had developed in his skull, and the fluid leaking from his ear was actually from his brain.
The condition he has is linked to obesity, and there are surgeries to fix it. Sleep apnea is also known to play a role in developing the condition, which happens when there is a thinning of the skull, allowing cerebrospinal fluid to leak out.
“Patients are surprised to realize there’s brain fluid leaking out of their ear. Clearly, they are thinking it’s just a standard ear infection when it’s actually a connection between the outside world and their brain,” said Dr. Rick Nelson, a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
Nelson performed a three-hour surgery on Hoffman in December, and the problem went away.
“It’s a relief,” said Hoffman. “I’ve probably used enough cotton to knit me a sweater, some socks and a few other things.”
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