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Otolaryngologycal Exam

Bleeding From Ear

By

Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What is bleeding from the ear?

Bleeding from the ear is ear drainage that contains blood. The discharge may be a combination of pus, wax, fluid and blood. Although there are other possible causes, the most common cause of bleeding from the ear is a ruptured or perforated eardrum.

Your ear is divided into three sections: the outer ear (includes the external ear and ear canal), the middle ear (includes the eardrum and three tiny bones called ossicles), and the inner ear (includes the nerve endings that detect sound waves). Hearing occurs when sound waves travel through the outer ear and into the middle ear, where they cause vibration of the eardrum and ossicles. These vibrations are then transmitted through the inner ear, converted into electrical impulses, and translated by the brain as sound.

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A ruptured or perforated eardrum means that the delicate eardrum, also known as the tympanic membrane, has a tear or hole. When your eardrum is ruptured you may experience a loss of hearing.

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A ruptured eardrum is a cause for some concern because the eardrum is a natural barrier to germs entering the middle and inner ear. The good news is that a ruptured ear drum will heal on its own within a few weeks; however, precautions should be taken to avoid infection.

Bleeding from the ear can also be due to more serious conditions, such as a blow to the head or cancer of the ear canal. You should contact your doctor any time you experience bleeding from the ear. If you experience bloody discharge from the ear after a fall or a blow to the head, seek immediate medical care.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 31, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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Medical References

  1. Ear discharge, Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003042.htm.
  2. Ruptured eardrum, , Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001038.htm.

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