Ear Discharge

Also known as: otorrhea

What is ear discharge?

The ear produces ear wax which is protective.  Abnormal ear drainage which is bloody or with pus can be a sign of a problem with the ear.

What might cause ear discharge?

Ear discharge can have a number of different causes, including:
  • Injury
  • Infection
  • Fluid in the ear from swimming
  • Skull fracture
  • Infection of the mastoid bone (mastoiditis)

What are the treatment options?

If the fluid coming out of the ear is not accompanied by other symptoms then the patient can take a wait and see approach. It is possible that it will resolve on its own.

When should you seek medical attention?

If the ear drainage is associated with any of the following symptoms the patient should seek medical attention:
  • Discharge is white, yellow or bloody
  • It lasts longer than 5 days
  • The ear is red or swollen
  • Discharge is accompanied by hearing loss, fever or other concerning symptoms

Reviewed by: Sandeep Dave, MD

This page was last updated on: December 09, 2019 09:17 AM

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