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Ear Drainage

Causes

Ear drainage consists of substances or liquids with varied colors and consistency from the ear canal.

Normal discharge: Earwax or water. Earwax is light brown, dark brown, or orange brown in color.

Abnormal discharge: Main cause is an ear infection with drainage of cloudy fluid or pus through a ruptured eardrum or a ventilation tube. Occasionally the drainage from a ruptured eardrum is blood-tinged.

Home care advice for ear discharge

  1. Earwax
    • Earwax protects the lining of the ear canal and has germ-killing properties.
    • If the earwax is removed, the ear canals become itchy.
    • Do not use cotton swabs (Q-tips) in your child’s ear.
    • Call your pediatrician if discharge begins to look like pus (yellow or green discharge).
  2. Clear discharge (without head trauma)
    • It’s probably tears or water that entered the ear canal during a bath, shower, swimming, or water fight.
    • In children with ventilation tubes, some clear or slightly cloudy fluid can occur when a temporary tube blockage opens up and drains.
    • Call your pediatrician if clear drainage persists for more than 24 hours or recurs.
  3. Blood after ear examination
    • If your doctor had to remove earwax to see the eardrum, about 10% of the time this causes a small scratch to the lining of the ear canal. Usually the scratch oozes 1 or 2 drops of blood and then clots.
    • This should heal up completely in a few days.
    • Do not put anything in the ear canal because it will probably re-start the bleeding.
    • Call your pediatrician if bleeding continues or recurs.
  4. Suspected ear infection
    • Cloudy fluid or pus draining from the ear canal almost always means there’s a small tear in the eardrum and a middle ear infection.
    • Give acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g. Advil) for pain relief until the office visit.
    • Call your pediatrician if your child becomes worse.

 

Information on this site is intended for Angel Kids Pediatrics patients only. Always consult your doctor before beginning, modifying, or discontinuing any treatment plan.

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