Home Ear Ear Discharge or Drainage in Adults Causes and Treatment

Ear Discharge or Drainage in Adults Causes and Treatment

by Dr. Joe Morales

Causes of ear drainage

Ear Drainage Caused By Excess Ear Wax

Ear wax is the commonest substance that is seen coming from an ear. It is very normal for a smaller amount of ear wax to be observed in the outer parts of the ear canal. To stop this, some ENT doctors have recommended the use of a washcloth or even a tissue over the little finger so as to clean the outer parts of the ear canal only.

Use of the Q-tips at any given time for the extraction of the ear wax is not commended. Use of a Q-tip can push the ear wax in the ears further, but can also lead to trauma occurring to the ear drum.

Large amounts of ear wax that is coming from the ear can indicate a small blockage or even a problem with the ear wax large production. If this is occurring, the ear wax can be gotten rid by a physician. You should not get rid of it without consulting the doctor first.ear drainage

Ear drops that are able to dissolve the ear wax might be used if required. Ear wax may also be flushed out by use of warm water and also a syringe, but this should be done as directed by the physician.

Ear Drainage Caused By a Perforated Ear Drum

Clear, watery ear drainage that might be slightly tinged with the blood is normally brought about by a perforated ear drum. This implies that the eardrum (also known as the tympanic membrane) contains a tear that allows the fluid that is inside the ear to drain out.

This type of injury may be brought about by inserting of the things into the ear including;

  • Q-tips
  • paper clips
  • hair pins

It may also be brought about by;

  • Ear infections
  • Pressure changes (known as the barotrauma)
  • Extremely loud noises

A small tear in the ear drum can normally heal on its own in about one week; but, you may need to see the doctor, who should prescribe the antibiotics if an infection is thus suspected.

Bleeding From the Ear

Bright red ear drainage is usually due to a serious condition and should be keenly observed by a doctor.

Bloody ear drainage may be due to a foreign object that is in the ear, which is very much common in children or even a head injury.

There are also some medical conditions, like cancer, that can lead to bloody ear drainage. People who are medication and especially the ones on blood-thinning medications, like Coumadin, are much prone to have the bloody ear drainage.

Ear Infection

An infection that occurs to the ear leads to the ear discharge. Infection to the ear happens when viruses or even the bacteria get into the middle part of the ear which is located immediately after the eardrum. It contains three bones called the ossicles that are required for hearing. Infections that occurs to the ear lead to the building up of the fluid in the ear causing ear discharge.


Trauma normally affects the ear canal and can be due to a huge cause of the ear discharge. Trauma of this particular type can take place as the scour the ear use of a Q-tip when they are pushed deep inside the ear.

Increased pressure during cleaning leads to trauma to the ear thus rapturing of the eardrum. So as to heal, the ear will start off by discharging certain fluid.

Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear, also called the Otitis externa, happens after the ear canal is much infected with fungus or even the bacteria. This occurs when you stay in water for a long period of time. A large amount of moisture in the ear is able to damage the ear canal walls.

Fungi as well as the bacteria is able to infiltrate and lead to an infection. Once there is an infection of the ear, then an ear discharge will occur.

Types of ear discharge

Watery discharge from ear

Clear discharge, sometimes known as the watery ear drainage, can be a sign of tissue swelling or even more seriously, the cerebrospinal fluid which is the fluid that normally surrounds the brain that is in the cranial cavity.

Smelly ear discharge

Apart from the ear wax, as well as the clear ear drainage, you may also observe: white, yellow, or even experience a foul-smelling drainage. These particular types of ear drainage may require to have a doctor who will be able to evaluate.

This is normally due to some active infection that requires keen evaluation. Also, be sure to always consult the doctor if the drainage does not resolve within about a period of 5 days or if the ear drainage starts due to the head injury.

Clear drainage from ear

Clear or even the blood-tinged ear drainage may also be brought about by skin problems that is in the ear, like the eczema or swimmer’s ear. In this particular case, the ear drainage is due to a weeping wound and is supposed to resolve within a few number of days.

In very rare instances, clear ear drainage may be brought about by a cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) leak. Leaks most commonly happen because of the following;

  • traumatic injuries
  • surgeries
  • chronic ear disease which includes the chronic middle ear infections.
  • cancer

If you experience a traumatic injury, you should seek urgent medical attention. Fluid that is emanating from a trauma can be blood tinged but in the case of a CSF leak, may still be very clear.

Pus in earlobe

Having puss occurring in the earlobe is not a very good thing. It normally implies that you tried to get a piercing or even tried to perform a self-piercing, but a different kind of earlobe injury occurred. Having puss in the earlobe also implies that there is an existing infection and having the doctor check is a good idea.

Earlobe bumps are a very common happening. An earlobe bump may be due to;

  • Clogged sebaceous gland, a condition known as the sebaceous cyst.
  • Epidermoid cysts usually appear mostly on the earlobe and, in very rare cases, are able to develop into skin cancer.

An inflamed or even infected hair follicle may lead to a tender lump occurring on the earlobe. The earlobe tissue is able to swell due to a reaction to the earring metal.

Sebaceous cysts are very much benign. The body of the cyst is normally filled with the dead skin cells and also the oil emanating from the skin’s oil glands. They might be manipulated using the fingers and also moved under the skin.

Sebaceous cysts are very much painless unless they are infected or are pressing on a certain nerve. They may happen anywhere on the body at a place where sebaceous glands are available, which includes the earlobes.

Epidermoid cysts, just like the sebaceous cysts, may happen anywhere on the body and are usually painless. The cyst is normally made up of squamous epithelium and does not manipulate like the sebaceous cyst. Although the epidermoid cysts are very much common than the sebaceous cysts, the two terms are normally misused. Infected epidermoid cysts may have blood and also the pus and might become very much painful to the touch.

Blood draining from ear

It is very much vital to have a basic knowledge of an ear anatomy. The ear is divided into three sections;

  1. The outer ear,
  2. The middle ear as well as
  • The inner ear

The ear canal of the outer ear usually transmits sound waves directly to the eardrum.

It further transmits the mechanical force directly to the three small bones (known as the ossicles – malleus, incus, stapes) that are in the middle ear. This particular forces is transmitted to oval window of the inner ear which is then converted into nerve signals by cochlea and thus relayed to the brain where it is finally perceived as sound.

Causes of Bleeding from Ear

These are certain causes of the gross bleeding from the ears, blood-stained fluid or even the wax. There can also be other very much uncommon conditions that could also present with the bleeding from the ears. It is thus very much vital to seek medical attention.

Ruptured Eardrum

A tear that is in the eardrum is the most common causes of bleeding from the ear. It might happen with the following;

  • a foreign body piercing directly the eardrum
  • infections
  • Sudden changes in air pressure that might be brought about by an open hand slap.

But, a perforated eardrum might not always available with bleeding that is emanating from the ear. Sometimes the minor perforations normally go unnoticed and also the heals on its own in small time.

Skull Fracture

A fracture that has occurred to the base of the skull may also lead to the bleeding from the ears. Normally there is an ear drainage from the ears and nose. Blood will be evident if there is a rupture of a blood vessel thus the blood mixes with CSF and getting out of the ears. It is a very much rare happening and mainly happens with very much severe head trauma.

Foreign Body

A foreign body is any object that should not naturally happening in a place. With the ear this normally involves objects such as the cotton swab, pens or even the pencils and so on. A foreign body might not necessarily lead to bleeding on its own unless the eardrum is perforated or leads to a break in the skin which is lining the ear canal. Children might also accidentally place small toys or food in the ears.ear drainage

Hemorrhagic Fever

Viral hemorrhagic fevers are very much common and a major concern that have occurred in recent times mainly because of the Ebola outbreak. In the late stages that are exhibited by the disease, the virus leads to the breakdown of the blood vessels which might then cause bleeding from the orifices like the mouth, ears and also the anus. While not all the viral hemorrhagic fevers are as deadly, some such as the Ebola can have as high as about 95% mortality rate.

Ear drainage into throat

There are two issues that are depicted here. For the drainage of the ear, a ruptured eardrum might be a problem. For the drainage into the mouth, then a CSF leak is possible.

Perforated eardrum.

This particular condition normally opens the middle ear to the external ear canal. So an infection may lead to the ear drainage. Take note that a perforated eardrum might be brought about by infection or injury. But it does not drain in any way into the mouth.

A perforated eardrum implies that there is a hole that is in the eardrum, occurring between the middle ear cavity and also the external ear canal. A perforation that is in the eardrum can happen much spontaneously, following an injury or an infetion.

Ear drainage at night

Increased thin clear secretions may be because of;

  • colds and flu
  • cold temperatures
  • some foods or spices
  • pregnancy
  • Hormonal changes.

Certain drugs (including the birth control pills as well as the high blood pressure medications) and also the structural abnormalities are able to also produce the increased secretions. These kind of abnormalities include a deviated or even irregular nasal septum.

Increased thick secretions in the winter normally is caused by too little moisture that is in heated buildings and also the homes. They may also be brought about by;

  • Sinus
  • nose infections
  • allergies
  • foods like the dairy products.

If the thin secretions are very much thick and also green or even yellow, it is thus likely that a bacterial sinus infection is developing. Amongst the children, thick secretions that are from one side of the nose might imply that something is loosely stuck in the nose (like a bean, or even piece of toy, etc.).

Treatments and home remedies


Wait and see.

The ENT doctors recommend that physicians take a “wait and see” approach to the treatment in most of the cases. Most of the infections can resolve spontaneously within a period of about two weeks with the pain reducing within about four days.

  • Watch the children who are aged 7 months to 24 months who are experiencing a temperature that is less than 39 °C, experience only a very mild ear pain in a single ear, and who have symptoms less than two days.
  • Watch the children who are 24 months or even older who are experiencing a mild pain in both ears with a temperature of less than 102.2F and symptoms that are less than 48 hours.

Consider treatment using the antibiotics.

In certain circumstances, the doctor can recommend antibiotics at the initial visit for the treatment of an ear infection, more especially for the infants who are under six months, children experiencing a moderate to very severe pain, children experiencing a temperature of 102.2 Fahrenheit or even higher, or the children ranging from 6 months to 23 months old and experiencing bilateral ear infections.

Secondary effects that emanates from a middle ear infection amongst the children or the adults may lead to an infection in another part of the head and also the brain, or even the paralysis of a nerve that is in the face.

  • Although the antibiotics are able to address the growth of the bacteria that is in the middle ear, it also takes a few days for the reduction in the pressure as well as the pain so as to get better.
  • Watch for the side effects that are emanating from the antibiotics.Some of the children are able to have nausea, and diarrhea from use of antibiotics.

Relieve the pain and also discomfort.

Whether or not antibiotics are prescribed by the doctor, the child or even the adult are able to continue having pain and also pressure until the ear drainage starts to clear.

Relieve the pain by use of the following strategies:

  • Administer Tylenol so as to assist relieve the pain and also to reduce the fever. Consult with the physician on which of the over-the-counter medication is mostly preferred and how much to give a child.

Ask the doctor about pain relieving ear drops.

If there is a lot of pain, ask the doctor for ear drops that are able to assist. These may be applied if the eardrum or even the tympanic membrane has not fully ruptured. If it has, then the medication or even the drops are able to get inside of the middle ear and lead to damage.

Home remedies;

1. Allow Gravity to Do its Work

When it comes to treatment of the ear drainage, it is very much vital to get rid of all the fluid buildup in the affected ear. The best method that can be used to do this is to apply the gravity.

  • Tilt the side of the head parallel to the ground. Put a very clean finger in the ear and try to create a small vacuum to assist dislodge the fluid. Make use of a cotton bud or even a clean towel so as to clean up the discharge.
  • You may also simply lie down on the side using a towel under the ear.

2. Warm Compress

A warm compress is a perfect natural treatment for an ear drainage. The heat normally promotes the flow of fluid and assists to ease any related pain.

  • Dip a washcloth in the hot water and then wring out any excess. Place the washcloth over the ear about 5 minutes, then tilt the head so as to promote fluid drainage. Take a small break and then reapply as required.
  • You can try laying the head on a heating pad that is wrapped in a clean towel for about 10 minutes at very regular intervals.

3. Steam Inhalation

Another good method that can be used to treat the ear drainage is the steam inhalation. Steam will assist to open the Eustachian tube so as to encourage the release of fluid that is trapped in the ear. This in turn can promote smooth drainage.

  1. Put some of boiling water in a bowl and add about 5 drops of eucalyptus or any given essential oil of your choice.
  2. Place a towel over the head and then inhale the steam slowly 10 minutes.
  3. Tilt the head to one side for the fluid to flow out.
  4. Repeat as required.

4. White Vinegar and Rubbing Alcohol

White vinegar contains antibacterial effect that can be used to treat an ear drainage that is in the middle ear. Also, rubbing of the alcohol works as a drying agent so as to promote evaporation of the fluid buildup that is inside the ear.

  1. Mix equal parts of the white vinegar and also the rubbing alcohol and then fill an ear dropper with the solution.
  2. Lie down with the affected ear facing directly upward.
  3. Put about 4 drops into the ear and then wait 5 minutes.
  4. Tilt the ear to another side so as to allow drainage.
  5. Repeat the process twice daily so as to break down an infection and also the wax.

5. Garlic

To treat middle ear infection that leads to the fluid discharge, try to use garlic. It contains natural antibiotic properties that are able to fight off the infection well.

  1. Crush 3 garlic cloves so as to extract the fresh juice.
  2. Use a dropper so as to put 4 drops into the ear.
  3. Wait for about 5 minutes, blow dry the ear.
  4. Repeat the procedure twice daily for a few days.

As the garlic juice starts to heal the infection, you will see less of the fluid discharge.

6. Neem Oil

The oil of neem, also called margosa, is also very much effective in treatment of an ear drainage and inflammation of middle ear. Also, it assists to reduce ear pain.

  1. Put 3 drops of the neem oil into the affected ear by use of a dropper.
  2. Leave it for about 15 minutes, then tilt the head to get rid of the fluid.
  3. Repeat the procedure about 3 times a day so as to get very quick results.

Further references

  1. Ear Drainage: Types and Meaning: https://www.verywell.com/what-is-ear-drainage-and-what-does-it-mean-1191911
  2. Ear Drainage: http://www.enkivillage.com/ear-drainage.html
  3. Ear infection (middle ear): http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ear-infections/symptoms-causes/dxc-20199484
  4. Causes of Ear Discharge (Secretion, Fluid): http://www.healthhype.com/causes-of-ear-discharge-secretion-fluid.html
  5. How To Get Rid Of Puss In Earlobe: http://www.mademan.com/mm/how-get-rid-puss-earlobe.html
  6. Bleeding from Ear (Bloody Fluid, Wax) Causes, Warning Signs: http://www.healthhype.com/bleeding-from-ear-bloody-fluid-wax-causes-warning-signs.html
  7. Ear Congestion – Causes and Treatment for Congested Ears: http://www.foodpyramid.com/conditions-disorders/ear-congestion-causes-and-treatment-for-congested-ears-10701/
  8. POST-NASAL DRIP: http://entcenterutah.com/post-nasal-drip/
  9. Home Remedies for Ear Discharge: http://www.top10homeremedies.com/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-ear-discharge.html
  10. How to Treat a Middle Ear Infection: http://www.wikihow.com/Treat-a-Middle-Ear-Infection


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