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Ear Bleeding

The ear is one of the most sensitive organs in the body. It has three sections: outer, middle, and inner ear. The ear is primarily used for hearing.


It needs a sound wave to travel through the outer ear and in the middle ear so that vibration of the eardrum takes place. Without this mechanism, it would be impossible for a human being to hear sounds.

However, there are instances when hearing and the overall ear health are compromised. Ear bleeding pertains to ear drainage containing blood. It could be a pure blood or a combination of fluid, wax, and blood. (1, 2)

Ear bleeding as characterized by fresh blood coming from the patient’s ear.image

Photo 1: Ear bleeding as characterized by fresh blood coming from the patient’s ear.
Picture Source: cdn.zouchmagazine.com

A profuse bleeding of the left ear.photo

Image 2: A profuse bleeding of the left ear.
Photo Source: pop.h-cdn.co

What causes bleeding from the ear?

The causes of ear bleeding are vast. It could be associated with a medical condition or could be a result of trauma or injury. What causes ear bleeding and headache? Take a look at the common causes and their corresponding clinical manifestations. (2)

  • Damaged eardrum – A tear or a puncture in the eardrum can significantly affect the health of your ear. Clinical manifestations include pain and discomfort in the ear, a ringing sensation in the ear, vertigo (spinning sensation), nausea with or without vomiting, and hearing loss.
  • Ear infection – Infection in the middle ear could result to symptoms like fever, a feeling of pressure in the ear, trouble sleeping, and difficulty balancing.
  • Barotrauma – It is caused by a sudden change in altitude, which could possibly lead to rupture of the eardrum and bleeding. Other associated symptoms are dizziness, ear pain, a feeling of pressure or ringing sensation in the ears. (3, 4)
  • Presence of foreign object in the ear canal – A foreign object in the ear canal can compromise the condition of the eardrum. It could rupture the eardrum, which increases the possibility of bleeding from the ear. Clinical manifestations include ear pain, pressure in the ear, dizziness, ear discharge, and hearing loss.
  • Cancer of the ear canal – This type of cancer is rare, but can cause severe symptoms such as extreme pain and pressure in the ear, headache, blurry vision, numbness and facial pain.
  • Head trauma – A sudden and extreme impact to the head can cause ear bleeding. A bloody discharge from the ear after a head trauma is an indicator of bleeding around the brain.
  • Excessive ear cleaning – Ear bleeding after cleaning is also possible, especially if you are the type of person who has the habit of cleaning the ear every single day. (5, 6)

When you should contact your doctor?

A blooding discharge from the ear shouldn’t be taken for granted. It could be a simple bleeding caused by excessive cleaning. However, if the bleeding is profuse, then you need to call out for help. Ear bleeding can be dangerous and life-threatening.

Not treating the infection right away could lead complications. Indicators of serious underlying conditions include profuse bloody discharge from the ears and nose, altered consciousness, lethargy, irregular pupil size, and vomiting. (7)

What are the possible complications?

A mild bleeding in the ear does not possess any complications. However, the underlying causes of ear bleeding could cause long term health issues, especially if not treated right away.

An infection if left untreated could lead to severe infection. It could cause not just your hearing but your life too. The infection could travel to various parts of the body including the fragile bones. Complications of ear bleeding include the following:

  • Permanent hearing loss
  • Permanent ringing sensation in the ear
  • Altered language and cognition
  • Balance problems and vertigo
  • Recurrent headaches (7, 8, 9)

How to diagnose ear bleeding?

  • Physical examination – the doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination to rule out the root cause of the ear bleeding. The doctor will inspect not just the ears, but also the surrounding structures such as the neck, head, and throat. The patient’s past medical and surgical history will be considered too. It could be possible that you just recently had an accident and sustain a head injury, which eventually leads to bleeding of the ear.
  • Laboratory test and imaging studies – Blood works will be done to check for any signs of infection. If necessary, imaging test should be performed to accurately rule out the root cause of bleeding. The usual imaging studies include an x-ray and a CT scan. (1, 4, 10)

Ear Bleeding Treatment

How do you stop a bleeding ear? The exact cause of ear bleeding should be ruled out first in order to come up with the best possible treatment. The treatment is yield towards the underlying cause because it is the only way to stop the bleeding permanently. The treatment and management choices for ear bleeding include the following:

  • Drug therapy – If the ear bleeding is caused by infection, the patient is placed on antibiotic therapy. However, some ear infections do not subside using antibiotics alone. If the infection is viral in nature, then antibiotics will be of no use.
  • Pain medication – Ear bleeding always comes with pain and discomfort. To somehow alleviate the pain and discomfort, the patient is placed on pain medication. (3, 6)
  • Warm compress – To somehow alleviate the pain and discomfort and improve the circulation of blood, you should wet a wash cloth using warm water and gently place over sore ear. Make sure you protect your ear from further damage. Keep it clean and cover your ear to prevent water and other debris from entering the ear. (2, 8, 9)

Ear bleeding usually resolves on its own as time passes by. However, if you notice a profuse ear bleeding, then you should consult your doctor right away. Ear bleeding is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If the root cause of the ear bleeding is not determined, then the bleeding will not stop.

If you experience ear bleeding along with other alarming symptoms like pain, fever, discomfort, balance problems, and bleeding from other parts of the body, they are indicators that something is not right in your system. You have to call out for help. (1, 6, 10)

References:

  1. www.healthline.com
  2. symptomchecker.webmd.com
  3. www.healthgrades.com
  4. www.healthhype.com
  5. www.doctorshealthpress.com
  6. www.merckmanuals.com
  7. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  8. www.medicinenet.com
  9. www.nytimes.com
  10. Diagnosis and Treatment of Ear Diseases By Albert Henry Buck

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