The Whole Story Behind That Bleeding Ear

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Overview

Bleeding from the ear can be caused by a few different things. Perhaps some of these are cause for alarm. If you experience bleeding from your ear, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. Find out what's going on and why with their assistance.

Your doctor's goal in your appointment will be to determine the source of the bleeding. They will probe for additional symptoms by asking you about them.

Read on for the most frequently encountered explanations for ear bleeding.

Otic bleeding can be caused by a number of medical issues or accidents. The specific symptoms of each of these can aid your doctor in making a diagnosis.

A damaged or ripped eardrum

When your eardrum has been torn or punctured, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Discomfort or pain in the ear
  • impaired hearing
  • the constant ringing in your ears
  • vertigo is the disorienting feeling that one's surroundings are spinning.
  • vomiting and nausea from dizziness

It is possible to puncture an eardrum and not realize it until subsequent symptoms manifest.

Otitis externa

An ear infection in the middle region can also cause:

  • The sensation of fullness, pressure, or pain in the ear
  • fever
  • Issues with Stability
  • Trouble falling asleep

Barotrauma

Ear barotrauma can occur when there is a rapid change in altitude. Aside from the obvious risk of eardrum rupture and the resulting bloody ear, this can also cause:

  • pressure and discomfort in the ears
  • dizziness
  • noises in the ears

This type of ear bleeding is more common in people who frequently fly or go SCUBA diving.

Three ways to alleviate concert-induced tinnitus »

There's something stuck in my ear

Eardrum perforation can occur if something is lost or pushed into the ear canal. This can cause ear bleeding and other symptoms, including:

Learn more about the signs and how to treat foreign object injuries by reading on »

Ear canal cancer

Signs of this uncommon cancer include:

  • earache, also known as aural pressure
  • headaches
  • disturbances in facial sensation, such as pain
  • impairment of or change to vision

Traumatic brain injury

If the head is injured in some way, such as from a fall or a hit, the blood vessels in the ear can burst. Warning: this could be a sign of brain bleeding and requires immediate medical attention.

Children's concussion symptoms: what you need to know

If you notice any bleeding from your ears, you should see a doctor immediately. Ear bleeding can be a serious medical emergency for a number of reasons. The moment you realize you're bleeding, you should contact a doctor or emergency room. If you've just experienced head trauma and you're seeing blood, this is especially crucial.

Bleeding in the ear can also be caused by less serious conditions, such as an ear infection. The absence of treatment for the infection or underlying cause, however, may result in serious consequences. No matter what you think the root cause is, you should see a doctor.

The Healthline FindCare tool can help you locate a doctor in your area if you need to see one for something like ear bleeding and don't already have a regular doctor.

Though ear bleeding itself is usually harmless, underlying causes for it can cause serious problems.

An infected ruptured eardrum is one example. The eardrum serves as a protective barrier between the middle ear and environmental hazards like bacteria, water, and foreign bodies. If the eardrum weren't there to keep bacteria out of the inner ear, an infection could spread.

The bones in your ear are very delicate, and they could easily be damaged by an infection. Ignoring the infection could result in permanent hearing loss.

Other common ear bleeding complications include:

  • shifts in how we interpret language
  • Disabled ears for life
  • perpetual ear noise
  • difficulty thinking that won't go away
  • persistent headaches
  • I get dizzy a lot.
  • Having trouble keeping your balance

Learn more about the causes, treatments, and prevention of recurrent ear infections by reading "What you need to know about chronic ear infections."

Once you decide to see a doctor about your ear bleeding, he or she will conduct a full physical examination, including a thorough check of your ears, neck, head, and throat. They will want to know your complete medical history, including the time and cause of the bleeding.

Your doctor may suspect an injury caused the bleeding if you've recently been in an accident or fall. In order to confirm the diagnosis or to check for further damage, your doctor may order imaging tests or lab work.

For extreme circumstances, this is an emergency. In order to keep an eye out for any shifts in consciousness, your doctor may recommend that you undergo additional testing at a hospital or emergency care center.

Your doctor may perform additional tests to determine the cause of the bleeding. An otoscope allows your doctor to examine the interior of your ear, looking for signs of damage, debris, or other potential causes. If the results of that examination are inconclusive, further imaging tests like an X-ray or CT scan may be necessary. Infection can also be assessed through laboratory testing.

Read on to learn what to anticipate during an aural exam »

The source of your aural hemorrhaging can be determined by your doctor, and from there you and your healthcare team can decide on the best course of action. Ear bleeding treatments focus on stopping the underlying problem. Ultimately, the bleeding will stop once the underlying cause is addressed. Inclusion in these therapies:

  • Antibiotics: These drugs are useful for treating and curing various infections. On the other hand, antibiotics don't work for every ear infection. Antibiotics are useless against viral infections.
  • Be patient; many of the underlying causes of ear bleeding will resolve on their own after some time has passed. This is the standard procedure for treating both a ruptured eardrum and a concussion or other types of obvious head trauma. Your doctor will want to know if anything has changed in the days and hours after your bleeding began. It's possible that further treatment is required.
  • Relievers of physical suffering: Some people find relief from the discomfort and irritation caused by ear infections, damage, or pressure problems by using over-the-counter pain medications.
  • Use a washcloth wetted with hot or warm water to apply a warm compress. To soothe your aching ear, wrap the cloth around it. A warm compress has the soothing effect of gently reducing pain and discomfort.
  • To avoid hearing loss, it is important to use earplugs until your physician gives the Wearing Ear Plugs or guards to keep dust and water out of your ear canals
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