What causes bleeding from the ear?
Bleeding from the ear is usually due to a ruptured or perforated eardrum caused by a middle ear infection (otitis media). However, bleeding from the ear can also be caused by trauma to the head or the ear itself and other serious conditions. Be sure to tell your doctor about any other symptoms you are experiencing in order to address all possible causes.
Causes of a ruptured eardrum
Conditions that can lead to a ruptured eardrum include:
Abrupt changes in altitude (barotrauma)
Foreign object piercing the eardrum
Very loud noise
Serious or life-threatening causes of bleeding from the ear
In some cases, bleeding from the ear may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:
Cancer of the ear canal or middle ear
Head trauma, such as a blow to the head
Trauma to the ear canal or middle ear, such as from a hard slap or a foreign object
What are the potential complications of bleeding from the ear?
The complications of bleeding from the ear are related to the underlying cause. A ruptured eardrum is a cause for concern because it is a natural barrier to germs entering the middle and inner ear. Bleeding from the ear due to a blow to the head is cause for concern because a life-threatening complication from a blow to the head is permanent brain damage.
Over time, a ruptured eardrum can lead to potentially serious complications including:
Mastoiditis (spread of infection to the bone behind the ear)
Permanent hearing loss
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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