North Carolina man's runny nose turns out to be leaking brain fluid

JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. – Greg Phillpotts said his runny nose tormented him for five years – last year his family's Thanksgiving feast was ruined when fluid suddenly poured from one nostril and into the food, WTVD reports.

"I was preparing a meal and standing in the kitchen and it just added itself to the ingredients -- it screwed up the whole dinner," the North Carolina father said. While he had surgery to correct the issue in September, he spoke recently with WTVD about his rare condition.

Phillpotts had been living in New York until two years ago when he moved south to Johnston County after his wife retired.

For years, Phillpotts blamed the nagging condition on allergies and told WCBS in September that doctors in North Carolina had diagnosed him with pneumonia and bronchitis.

After years of stuffing tissues in his nose, one February night left him determined to figure out what was happening to his body. Phillpotts said a cough kept him up for an entire night and scared him enough to find yet another doctor.

This time, he got the right diagnosis.

In September, Dr. Alfred Iloreta at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital determined that Phillpotts nose had actually been leaking cerebrospinal fluid.

"It's the leakage of fluid that surrounds the brain to cushion it primarily to protect it from shock or trauma or anything like that," Dr. Iloreta told WTVD.

Left untreated, the constant leakage can result in a dangerous infection, Iloreta said.

A minimally invasive skull surgery was all it took to fix the leakage – doctors used a flap of Phillpotts' skin from another part of his body as a patch.

After five years of torture, Phillpotts was overjoyed.

“You ever been so congested you can’t breathe, and all of a sudden you can breathe again?” he asked. “You know what a relief that was?”