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Otorrhea – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Written by Dr.Mary

What is Otorrhea?

Otorrhea is the medical term given to ear discharge or drainage which is exiting the ear. Having any fluid draining from an ear is not something individuals are accustomed to experiencing. In order to diagnose the cause of this drainage, it is very important to know just how long it has been occurring, how severe it is, and exactly under the circumstances that it began.

More than a few diverse conditions can cause an individual to experience this discharge. Several of the more ordinary causes consist of a variety of types of infection, the access of an unfamiliar object into the ear as well as trauma to the brain. The various problems which cause this discharge will normally produce dissimilar types of drainage being occurring. Normally the management of otorrhea will depend on the reason for the discharge.

Causes for this discharge can begin from the ear canal, the middle ear or the cranial vault. Definite reasons are inclined to be evident acutely because of the relentlessness of their signs or related conditions. Additional reasons normally have an idler, continual course but can often become visible acutely.

Otorrhea Causes

Normally, an infection of the middle ear will cause ear drainage. This is also well-known as otitis media and this kind of infection can cause the middle ear to grow to be inflamed, typically due to viral or bacterial infection. This condition is most common in children and typically causes very glue-like, thick mucus to increase in the middle ear. This increase of the mucus can result in a ruptured eardrum. When this occurs, ear drainage most likely takes place as the mucus will drain from the eardrum and outside the ear.

An additional frequent reason for otorrhea can be caused by an outer ear infection. This is normally known as otitis externa. This kind of infection is usually recognized as “swimmer’s ear”. With this infection, the outer segment of the ear develops into inflammation. Several of the more general causes of this kind of swelling are excess water, a skin circumstance as well as hot weather, which can annoy the skin of the outer ear.

Otorrhea, which can be experienced in either kind of ear infections, may result in a clear, watery drainage or pus filled drainage. A clear, watery drainage is normally a thin discharge which is mostly clear in appearance. In some individuals, they may also experience a pus filled drainage, which is usually seen in the case of otitis externa. This type of drainage can create a very unpleasant smelling, thick, yellowish or greenish discharge. Some other signs which may go with an infection causing discharge may consist of a severe ear pain, fever, vertigo, nausea as well as fatigue.

There are also added conditions that can cause otorrhea. An impediment in the ear canal may cause this to occur. This may happen because of insertion of any type of strange object too far into the ear, where it can cause a great amount of inflammation. There are also incidences where ear discharge can occur in the event of an injury to the brain. If the brain becomes severely injured, cerebral fluid can drain thru the ear and this is of course a very urgent situation.


Several of the fundamental causes of otorrhea are as follows:

  • Over contact to water because of swimming
  • Existence of an item in the canal of the ear normally observed in children
  • Severe hit to the ear in cases of an injury to the head
  • Injure to the tissue of the ear due to different pressure
  • Head colds
  • “Acute Otis media” together with eardrum perforation
  • “Chronic Otis media” with either ear drum perforation or Cholesteatoma or both
  • Dermatitis of the canal of the ear

Diverse reasons of otorrhea will verify the color as well as constancy of the discharge from the ear.

Otorrhea Symptoms

  • Vertigo or unsteadiness
  • Discomfort or pain in both or one ear
  • Slight or partial hearing loss
  • Sensation of the ear being stuffed up
  • Pressure which is constant in the ear
  • Nose bleeding

Otorrhea Treatment

First the doctor will need to make an appraisal of the occurrence of otorrhea with suction appliance so as to clear this discharge in the ear which is affected. Following this the physician can establish the exact site from where the discharge is coming from. Antibiotic which is topical will be recommended as well as obligatory not to get the ear wet as well as avoiding swimming pending the full course of therapy is finished. The individual should not wash the ear with water to clear the discharge as this will force the eardrum and can cause it to perforate.

Antibiotics use needs to be held back pending a spinal tap confirming any signs of meningitis. A “trans-canal” method is also suggested to treat CSF otorrhea. On the other hand a “trans-mastoid” method is favored in case of a natural discharge as the exact location of the leak is not known.

If otorrhea is due to an inner or middle ear infection antibiotics are typically given to the individual. If this discharge becomes a problem which is chronic, the patient can need to have tubes put into the ear for proper drainage. If a foreign object is the reason for the discharge, a physician can perform the necessary steps to remove it. If a serious injury, such as a brain injury, is the cause, emergency treatment needs to be given under the direction of a neurologist.

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