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What Does Ear Infection Drainage Look Like

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When To Seek Medical Attention


Though ear discharge is a natural phenomenon due to the automatic cleaning system of your ears. But if you are facing the discharge in the form of pus, foul smell watery discharge for longer periods, you should not ignore it.

You may face other problems due to rear discharge. Thus the following symptoms will help you to decide whether you should seek medical help or not.

If you are facing the following symptoms due to ear discharge you must seek medical help as soon as possible.

  • If you are facing hearing difficulties like hearing loss.
  • If the discharge lasts more than 5 days.
  • If there is an excess accumulation of earwax in the ear
  • Fever
  • Diabetes or a compromised immune system

When Should I Call The Doctor

Very rarely, ear infections that dont go away or severe repeated middle ear infections can lead to complications. So kids with an earache or a sense of fullness in the ear, especially when combined with fever, should be seen by their doctors if they arent getting better after a couple of days.

Other things can cause earaches, such as teething, a foreign object in the ear, or hard earwax. Your doctor can find the cause of your childs discomfort and treat it.

How Can I Prevent Ear Discharge

Protect your ears from harmful noises, loud concerts, etc. Wear ear protection devices like earplugs and earmuffs if needed.

You should keep your ears neat and clean. Visit your audiologist to clean your excess earwax if it is posing a threat to your hearing.

Washcloth and soft tissue are used to clean the outer canal of the ear in order to prevent an excess of earwax discharge. Doctors also advise ear drops like hydrogen peroxide in order to dissolve ear wax and clean it.

Avoid insertion of foreign objects in the ear like a cotton swab. Due to deep insertion of these objects infections occur and it may lead to ear discharge.

You should dry your ears after involving yourself in water activities like swimming, bathing, etc. As too much moisture may cause ear infection and due to this ear drainage will irritate you.

Try to drain out the water by turning your head to one side and then the other.

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Allergies And Ear Infections

Like colds, allergies can also irritate the Eustachian tube and lead to middle ear infections. If you canât keep your child away from whateverâs bothering him, consider an allergy test to figure out his triggers. Medicine or allergy shots may offer relief and stop the infections, too.

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How Is A Fungal Ear Infection Treated

Ear Tube Drainage from Middle Ear Infection

If the inside of your ear looks really messy, the doctor may suggest a clean-up. This has the odd name of aural toilet. It can be done by a doctor or more usually a nurse. It involves gently clearing the ear of discharge using swabs, a suction tube or syringe. This may need to be done several times a week in the first instance. Aural toileting eases discomfort and also helps ear drops to get to the right place. However, it may be a bit uncomfortable while youre having it done, and you may need to take some painkillers.

Dont fiddle with your ear, keep it dry and try to resist scratching inside, however itchy it may be, as this will stop the infection from clearing up. Its not usually advisable to put a cotton wool plug in the ear unless you get a lot of discharge and you need to keep it under control for the sake of appearances.

Avoid swimming until the condition clears up.

Your doctor may prescribe 5% aluminium acetate ear drops. This is also known as Burows solution. Its not an antifungal but is used to calm down inflammation and help remove any muck in your ear.

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How Are Middle Ear Infections Treated

Dr. Wang: Frontline treatment for middle ear infections is a course of oral antibiotics. Sometimes steroids can be added if the pain is severe, which doesnt help resolve the infection any faster but can reduce the inflammation and pressure causing the pain. If youve been on standard treatments for several days but your ear still aches or feels full, you should be referred to an ENT, who may recommend different medications or elect to lance the eardrum to remove the fluid. If you keep getting middle ear infections, you may have to have ear tubes placed in your ears, just like we do with children.

What Causes Fluid From The Ear

Nearly all children will, at some point, experience a build-up of fluid behind the ear drum. This is known as an ear effusion. There may be no sign of infection, such as a fever, but the child might rub their ear or have some problems with hearing. Your doctor can see the fluid by looking into the ear with a special instrument.

An ear effusion can cause the middle ear to become inflamed and sometimes the fluid becomes infected. This is called otitis media. The infection is often caused by a virus and leads to earache and pain, fever and irritability in children. Sometimes the build-up of fluid lasts for a long time and the fluid becomes thick and sticky, causing hearing loss which can make learning difficult for children. This is called glue ear.

Fluid from the ear is sometimes caused by swimmers ear , when moisture and humidity cause the skin inside the ear canal to swell and become infected. Swimmers ear also makes the ear painful and itchy.

Other less common causes of fluid from the ear include:

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When To Contact A Medical Professional

  • The discharge is white, yellow, clear, or bloody.
  • The discharge is the result of an injury.
  • The discharge has lasted more than 5 days.
  • There is severe pain.
  • The discharge is associated with other symptoms, such as fever or headache.
  • There is loss of hearing.
  • There is redness or swelling coming out of the ear canal.
  • Facial weakness or asymmetry

What Are Symptoms Of Having Fluid In Your Ear

Ear Infection Time Lapse Video (No Drainage)

One potential source of ear problems is the middle ear. This is the small chamber behind the eardrum where the hearing bones are located. If fluid gets trapped in the middle ear, you may experience a variety of symptoms. At mthe inimum, you will feel a clogged sensation or even reduced hearing. Pressure and pain may also result. Sometimes your ears will pop and this may be brought on by yawning or opening your jaw widely. This may bring some relief but it is often temporary. Descending in an airplane or diving will typically worsen your symptoms.

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What Is Fluid From The Ear

A discharge from the ear, also called otorrhea, is usually just the body getting rid of ear wax the oil and solid materials you produce naturally to prevent dust and bacteria from getting into your ears.

But sometimes sticky fluid builds up in the middle ear, behind the ear drum. This mucus can lead to ear infections and loss of hearing, and is very common in children.

What Kind Of Ear Drops Should You Use

Your childs surgeon likely will recommend using ear drops to help keep your childs tubes clear of any blood or debris that may appear in the first week after surgery.

Saline or antibiotic drops both work equally well when a childs ears are not actively infected at the time of tube placement, Dr. Hopkins says. After surgery, he advises his patients to use five drops, twice a day for a week.

Even when you use the drops, its fairly common to see ear drainage in the month after surgery. Up to 16 percent of children experience some drainage, according to a Cleveland Clinic study that compared the effectiveness of saline drops versus antibiotic drops.

When you see drainage, thats a sign that your childs ear tubes are helping prevent painful fluid buildup, Dr. Hopkins says.

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How To Drain Ear Fluid

This article was medically reviewed by Luba Lee, FNP-BC, MS. Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner and educator in Tennessee with over a decade of clinical experience. Luba has certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support , Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support , Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing. She received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee in 2006.There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 770,411 times.

Care Advice For Ear Discharge

Ear Infection Prevention and Treatment


  • Ear wax protects the lining of the ear canal and has germ-killing properties.
  • If the earwax is removed, the ear canals become itchy.
  • Do not use cotton swabs in your child’s ear.
  • Begins to look like pus .

Clear Discharge :

  • Most likely, this is from tears or water that entered the ear canal. This can happen during a bath, shower, swimming or water fight.
  • Don’t overlook eardrops your child or someone else used without telling you.
  • In children with ventilation tubes, some clear or slightly cloudy fluid can occur. This happens when a tube blockage opens up and drains.
  • Clear drainage lasts for more than 24 hours.

Blood After Ear Exam:

  • Sometimes, ear wax needs to be removed by your doctor to see the eardrum. If ear wax was removed, it can cause a small scratch inside the ear canal. This happens about 10% of the time. The scratch oozes 1 or 2 drops of blood and then clots.
  • This should heal up in a few days.
  • It shouldn’t affect the hearing.
  • Don’t put anything in the ear canal. This may start the bleeding again.
  • Bleeding starts again.

Ear Infection:

  • Cloudy fluid or pus draining from the ear canal usually means there’s an ear infection.
  • The pus drains because there’s a small tear in the eardrum.
  • To help with the pain, give acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
  • See EARACHE for more advice.
  • Your child becomes worse.

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How Is An Ear Infection Diagnosed

Doctors diagnose ear infections by looking at the ear drum with a special light called an otoscope. They look for fluid in the middle ear, at the colour and position of the ear drum, and monitor the pressure in the middle ear. Common viral infections can make the ear drum look red, but antibiotics are not needed.

When To See The Doctor For Ear Discharge

Unless you know that your ear discharge is something mild like water, you should call your doctor to discuss the problem. Ear discharge along with fever, pain, hearing loss, or dizziness are possible signs of serious health issues.

Drainage is often a sign of a ruptured eardrum that needs to be examined. Your doctor will check to see if the tear in the eardrum will heal on its own or if you need surgery to repair it.

If you are bleeding from your ear as the result of an injury, you may want to call 911.

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Mild Frostnip Of The Ears

Frostnip is damage of the outermost layers of the skin caused by exposure to the cold . It is most commonly found in people doing leisurely activities like camping, hunting, or snow sports.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: ear numbness, outer ear pain, ear redness, turning blue or purple from coldness, cold ears

Symptoms that always occur with mild frostnip of the ears: cold ears

Urgency: In-person visit

When Else Are Antibiotics Needed

Draining an Abscess Behind the Ear! | How Does This Form!?

Antibiotics can be the right treatment for kids who get a lot of ear infections. Their doctors might prescribe daily antibiotics to help prevent future infections. And younger children or those with more severe illness may need antibiotics right from the start.

The wait-and-see approach also might not apply to children with other concerns, such as cleft palate, genetic conditions such as Down syndrome, or other illnesses such as immune system disorders.

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What Does An Infected Ear Piercing Look Like 10 Photos To Help You Spot An Infection

Plus, doctors explain what to do if you have one.


In a perfect world, youd get your ears pierced and spend the rest of your life effortlessly rocking cute earrings. In reality? Sometimes piercings get infected, andnot gonna sugar-coat itit can be really effing gross.

Luckily, infected ear piercings arent the norm and, if you get pierced at a reputable place and practice solid piercing after-care, youre probably going to be just fine. Still, infected piercings can and do happen to good people. Whomp, whomp.

If you find your piercing looking or feeling a little…off, it can be hard to tell the difference between minor irritation and a full-blown infection. But Kenneth A. Kaplan, MD, an otolaryngologist with ENT and Allergy Associates in New Jersey, and Leila Mankarious, MD, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, are here to clear things up that confusion and answer all the burning questions you have about infected ear piercings.

Plus, the 10 photos ahead can help you identify if you’re indeed dealing with an infection.

How do ear piercings even get infected?

Anyone can get an infected ear piercing, but it usually happens due to one of two major reasons, Dr. Kaplan says: Either your piercing site wasnt adequately sterilized before you were pierced, or you kinda-sorta-definitely didnt take great care of it after you were pierced.

Do only new ear piercings get infected?

What ear piercings are most likely to become infected?

Dilation Of The Eustachian Tube

More recently, dilation of the eustachian tube using balloon catheter has gained attention as a method of treating eustachian tube obstruction. There are two methods of performing this procedure depending on the route of the catheter introduction and the area of the Eustachian tube to be dilated. Dennis Poe popularized the transnasal introduction and the dilation of the nose side of the eustachian tube. Muaaz Tarabichi pioneered the transtympanic introduction of the balloon catheter and the dilatation of the proximal part of the cartilaginous eustachian tube.

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How To Remove Earwax At Home

There is no reason to ever insert anything into the ears to remove earwax. Earwax is only formed in the outer third of the ear canal. Using things like bobby pins or cotton-tipped applicators to clean out the earwax can actually push in the earwax, resulting in an impaction of earwax.

Ear candling has been touted as an alternative remedy to remove earwax, but this technique is not recommended, as it hasnt been found to be a successful treatment and can actually cause severe burns or injury.

Can Fluid From The Ear Be Prevented

Ear infections in children

Most ear infections are caused by a virus, so stay away from people who are sick and make sure you and your child are up to date with vaccinations.

Breastfeeding reduces the incidence of ear infections in babies. If you are breastfeeding, try to avoid letting milk run into your babys ears by feeding the baby upright rather than on their back.

Dont put anything in your ears, including cotton buds, pencils, or any other hard object. Use ear plugs or earmuffs to protect your ears from loud noise.

To prevent swimmers ear, dry your ears after swimming or showering and wear ear plugs if you swim often.

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Can You Use Antibiotic Ear Drops With Tubes

To avoid yeast infections of the ear canal, do not use antibiotic ear drops frequently or more than 10 days at a time. Oral antibiotics are unnecessary for most ear infections with tubes unless your child is very ill, has another reason to be on an antibiotic, or the infection does not go away after using ear drops.

Diagnosis For Ear Discharge

Your doctor will ask how long you have had ear discharge and what other symptoms you have. They will look into your ear to check for damage to the eardrum and signs of infection in your ear canal.

Your doctor may collect a swab of the fluid thats draining from your ear to send to a lab. They will test the sample to find the cause of infection.

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What Are The Possible Complications From An Ear Infection

It is common for some fluid to remain behind the eardrum after the infection clears. This may cause dulled hearing for a while. This usually clears within a week or so and hearing then returns to normal. Sometimes the mucus does not clear properly and glue ear may develop. Hearing may then remain dulled. Repeated ear infections can lead to glue ear. See a doctor if dulled hearing persists after an ear infection has gone, or if you suspect your child is having difficulty hearing.

If the eardrum bursts then it usually heals over within a few weeks once the infection clears. In some cases the perforation remains long-term and may need treatment to fix it.

If a child is normally healthy then the risk of other serious complications developing from an ear infection is very small. Rarely, a serious infection of the bone behind the ear develops from an ear infection. This is called mastoiditis. Very rarely, the infection spreads deeper into the inner ear, brain or other nearby tissues. This can cause various symptoms that can affect the brain and nearby nerves, including abscess and meningitis. You should always consult a doctor if a child with earache:

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