Ear discharge or Otorrhea is the oozing out of pus, cloudy fluid, blood, or ear wax from the ear. While discharge of earwax is normal, other types of ear drainages may be signs of serious underlying health conditions. The type of fluid that comes out of the ear may indicate the severity of the condition.
Types and causes of Ear Discharge
Earwax, which the ear produces to keep it healthy and protect it from infection, is a normal discharge. This discharge may be white, yellow, brown, or runny in case it is mixed with water while taking a bath or swimming.
Drainage of clear fluid which in most cases is water that got inside during swimming or bathing is also normal. It is a good idea to dry the ears with a soft cloth or using a hairdryer in low heat. This will help you to prevent swimmer’s ear or Otitis Externa, a condition in which the out ear canal is infected. Water can get trapped inside the ears while swimming or bathing. When excess moisture gets inside your ear, it may damage the skin on the ear canal wall. This makes way for bacteria, fungus, or virus to enter, thrive, and cause infection and drainage of clear fluid. Other symptoms of Swimmer’s ear include itching, scaling, red or moist ear canal, and pain. However, swimmer’s ear can also happen to those who are not swimmers. It may occur if there’s a cut in the ear canal skin. Irritating skin due to eczema or inserting foreign objects inside the ear may lead to a cut or break in the skin. Damages to the ear canal make it vulnerable to infections.
In case you are noticing drainage of clear fluid for more than a day, contact your ENT doctor. Drainage of clear fluid post injury can also be dangerous and should be checked by a physician.
At times small amount of blood may come out of the ear after a minor injury or scratch in the ear canal. Drainage of white, slightly bloody, or yellow fluid is also possible in case the eardrum, which is located between ear canal and middle ear, ruptures.
The eardrum can rupture when an infection in the ear exerts pressure on it. It can also happen due to injury, loud noise, inserting things deeper into the ear, or abrupt change in air pressure. Symptoms of ear drum rupture include pain, ringing and hearing loss in the affected ear. In case of blood drainage post head injury you should seek medical help immediately. You should also consider seeing a doctor promptly if you experience serious pain, swollen or red ear, or loss of hearing.
Pus or cloudy fluid
Infection in the ear canal that joins the outer ear to the middle ear may lead to draining of pus or cloudy fluid from the ear. Pus or cloudy fluid may also come out in case of an infection of the middle ear, a condition known as otitis media. Cold, flu, or injury may cause ear infections which are often accompanied with symptoms like earache, fever and nausea.
Other causes of ear discharge include:
- Skull fracture
- Mastoiditis, infection of the mastoid bone behind ear
Treatment of Ear Discharge
Treatment actually depends on the cause of the discharge. if you have any doubt about the seriousness of ear discharge please consult your GP or an ENT specialist. We have excellent, highly experienced GPs & ENTs on DocGenie.
If you or any of your family members are experiencing any of the above symptoms consult one of our ENT specialists for timely intervention. For online or in-clinic ENT consultation you can book an appointment on DocGenie website.