Our bodies are complex systems built upon complex systems. Bits and pieces that work together so that we can live and function as we know it. One of these many interesting pieces is the ear, and one of its functions is ear drainage.
You may be wondering why your ear would drain and is it normal to have ear drainage? There are many reasons for it, some everyday occurrences and others requiring help from an ear nose and throat professional.
Types of ear drainage
While it’s probably not a topic you throw around at the dinner table, ear drainage is something that almost everyone experiences in one form or another. There are four main kinds of ear drainage:
Ear wax – This waxy substance, also known as cerumen, helps to protect and clean the ear as it travels through the canal. It has antibacterial properties and a sticky consistency that can keep bacteria out and remove dead skin cells, dust and other foreign particles as it moves. While many people try to remove it, it’s best to leave earwax to do its job.
Clear fluid – Ear discharge that is clear is often water that has become trapped for some time in the ear during swimming or bathing. In general, it’s recommended to try and dry excess water from the ears using a towel or similar method to avoid infections.
Pus – Where pus is, there is an infection. In cases where pus or a similar fluid cloudy fluid is discharged from the ears, it may be time to see an ear, nose and throat professional. This is often a sign of an ear infection or ruptured eardrum. Other symptoms of pus-causing infections include fever, ear pain and even loss of appetite.
Blood – Similar to pus, ear drainage that includes blood is a sign that all is not well in the ear, and a visit to your health care provider may be needed. In some cases, small amounts of blood may be due to a scratch in the ear canal that can heal on its own, other times, it’s due to a ruptured eardrum or more severe ear infection.
Whatever your ear drainage, it’s essential to listen to signs and symptoms and get help as needed to protect your hearing health.
What to do about ear drainage
If you are experiencing ear drainage and believe that it’s more than just ear wax or a little water, schedule an appointment with your ear, nose and throat doctor to determine the cause and best treatment options.
During your appointment, your specialist may use specialized tools such as an otoscope to take a closer look inside your ear to see what’s happening. Once they understand the cause, they may prescribe antibiotics, recommend a decongestant or even a simple pain reliever and time before scheduling a follow-up visit.
In more extreme cases, when the first round of treatment isn’t successful, or there are repeated ear infections and ear drainage issues, ear tubes may be the next best step.
If you are experiencing ear drainage and looking for advice or treatment, contact our office to schedule an appointment. We can take a look and provide recommendations on managing and preventing it in the future.