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Otorrhea (Ear Discharge)

Written and reviewed by
DNB (ENT), MBBS, MNAMS - Otorhinolaryngology
ENT Specialist, Gurgaon  •  22 years experience
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Hi,

I am Dr. Harmeet Singh Pasricha. Today I would like to talk about otorrhea which is called ear discharge. It is frequently seen in patients. It can be because of disorder in the outer canal or in the middle ear. The conditions which can lead are otitis externa, otomycosis, and furuncle. All these can cause itching in the ear canal and pain also. Now the treatment of these conditions is cleaning of the ear canal by an ENT specialist so that debris is removed. Then the ear drops are given which are antifungal and antibacterial. If there is any other infection, then we also give medications. Other condition causes ear discharge are fungal middle ear which can acute otitis media or chronic superlative otitis media. An acute condition is painful and then there is a discharge of the ear.

We need to give oral antibiotics for this with ear drops if required and cleaning of the ear is required. If left untreated, it can cause cold or throat infection. Now about chronic superlative otitis media, it is because of the middle ear infection because of which there is perforation of the eardrum. So, discharge starts coming out from the middle ear through this perforation and reaches the external ear. First, we clear the discharge and then we give ear drops and antibiotics. We also give medications if we see cold and throat infection. This condition is usually not painful. You can prevent by avoiding the excessive use of earbud and prevent water by going into the ear canal. We need to do the diagnosis by x-ray and CT scan. Then we need to repair the eardrum.

This is the surgical procedure called tympanoplasty and mastectomy is done. These conditions are treatable. These conditions can also cause hearing loss. We see the conditions when we go inside the ear during surgery and we repair. So, all these problems can be treated by an ENT. You should never neglect your ear discharge and consult an ENT. If this problem is left for many years, then it can lead to complications. Infection may proceed to the brain, it can proceed to the inner ear and neck also. Such kind of conditions become life-threatening. If it goes in the brain, it can cause brain abscess and also permanent hearing loss. So, we should not take this lightly. We should get this treated as soon as possible. This is a treatable condition. Checkup of the ear at the gap of every 6 months is recommended to prevent any problem of the ear. Because hearing is the precious gift of nature. We should take care of it.

Thank You!

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