Causes of Ear Discharge (Secretion, Fluid)

Blood, fluid and other secretions from the ear is known as otorrhea or commonly referred to as ear discharge. In otorrhea, the discharge exits through the ear and should not be confused with natural ear wax (cerumen) that occurs within the ear canal. Ear discharge should not be ignored, especially if there is  constant secretions of blood, discharges stained with blood or clear, thin or sticky fluid that may be cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

Types of Ear Discharge

There are different types of ear discharge that can often be identified by the color, viscosity (fluid ‘thickness’) and odor. Broadly, ear discharge could be characterized as serous discharge that is clear and thin which may be the tissue fluid, bloody discharge or purulent discharge due to infection, which may vary from yellow to brown.

  • Foul smelling discharge from the ear is usually a sign of infection or cholesteatoma. Refer to Smelly Ear.
  • Yellow or brown fluid is also a sign of infection and in persistent infections, the discharge may be stained with blood and is usually thick and sticky. In acute infections, the ear secretion may appear white.
  • Bloody discharge, especially of ‘fresh’ blood, indicates a rupture of microvessels of the middle or inner ear or more serious causes of bleeding within the cranial cavity.
  • Clear discharge, sometimes referred to as watery ear discharge, may be an indication of tissue swelling or more seriously, cerebrospinal fluid which is the fluid that surrounds the brain in the cranial cavity.

Signs and Symptoms associated with Ear Discharge

Ear discharge may occur without any signs or symptoms, however, most causes of ear secretions will also result in symptoms due to pathology of the affected area.

Causes of Ear Discharge

The most common causes of a ear discharge is due to an infection of the outer or middle ear although otorrhea is also present in severe head trauma.

Acute Otitis Media

Acute otitis media where a perforation of the ear drum (tympanic membrane) is present may result in ear discharge. Severe pain of the ear usually occurs due to swelling and pressure caused by the purulent discharge. The pain usually precedes the discharge and may be accompanied by other symptoms like a sore throat, red eyes (conjunctivitis), fever, diminished hearing and at times, jaw pain.

Children with acute otitis media also present with restlessness, irritability, loss of appetite and may be seen constantly interfering with the ear. Recurrent bouts of acute otitis media should be investigated and appropriate long term treatment and preventative measures should be implemented.


  • Antibiotics may be necessary for bacterial infections, which is the most common cause of infection in acute otitis media.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs will reduce any pain and swelling and corticosteroids may be necessary in severe cases of swelling which is not resolving with anti-inflammatory drugs.

Chronic Otitis Media

Chronic otitis media may result in a persistent ear discharge and some of the other symptoms of an acute otitis media may not be present. Usually the discharge is yellow to brown and has a foul odor and can affect hearing and balance or may be reported as dizziness. Chronic otitis media is also called ‘glue ear’ due to the thick, sticky discharge.


  • Antibiotics may be necessary for long standing bacterial infections.
  • Corticosteroids may be necessary to reduce swelling and secretions.
  • Grommets may be inserted and this may also be necessary in children experiencing recurrent bouts of acute otitis media.


A cholesteatoma is when a keratin mass occurs in the middle ear. It can block the eustachian tube, damage surrounding tissues and increase the risk of chronic otitis media. Retraction (not perforation) of the ear drum allows the discharge to empty through the ear canal. A chronic, offensive smelling ear discharge that is scanty may be a sign of a cholesteatoma. Initially it may be painless pain can set it as the condition progresses.


  • Surgery is usually necessary.

Severe Head Injury

Head trauma, especially in cases of  hard falls, severe assault or motor vehicle accidents, may result in otorrhea. This may be seen as a clear fluid usually due to a CSF leak, or blood stained fluid or in severe cases, profuse bleeding.


  • Severe head trauma requires immediate medical treatment and should be treated as a medical emergency especially if there is a concurrent discharge of blood or fluid from the nose (nosebleed).
  • A CT scan is necessary and the attending physician will decide on the appropriate treatment based on the findings.

Otitis Externa

Otitis externa is an inflammation of the external ear (pinna) and ear canal caused by infection or an allergic response. The most common symptoms include pain, itchy and swollen ear canal. Otitis externa due to infections is also known as swimmer’s ear and is common during the summer ‘swimming’ season.


  • Antibiotics is required for bacterial infections. A viral or fungal infection causing otitis is less common but appropriate treatment should be implemented if necessary.
  • Antihistamines are usually required in otitis externa due to allergies.
  • Corticosteroids ear drops may be used to reduce swelling and itching of the ear canal in severe cases, provided that the ear drum is not perforated.

Other less common causes of chronic ear discharge include :

  • Cancer of the ear canal or tumour in the middle ear.
  • Mastoiditis which is an infection of the mastoid process of the skull which is located behind the external ear. This infection may occur due to otitis media where the infection spreads to the mastoid process. It may be seen as a swelling behind the ear or reported as pain behind the ear.
  • Foreign body in the ear usually occurs in children inserting objects in the ear. The object causes swelling of the ear canal and bacterial infections may occur further down the canal leading to foul smelling discharges.
  • Necrotizing otitis externa is a complication of otitis externa that is rare. The infection spreads to the bones of the skull and chronic severe pain is usually present. This condition usually occurs in immunocompromised or diabetic patients.
  • Wegener’s granulomatosis is a rare condition that affects the blood vessels of the respiratory passages, ears and less commonly, other areas of the body.


1. Acute Otitis Media. National Guideline Clearinghouse

2. Swimmer’s Ear. Mayo Clinic

3. Mastoiditis. Medline

4. Necrotizing (Malignant) External Otitis. American Academy of Family Physicians

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  • krutoi

    what is the cause of clear liquid drainage in adult, with no prior head trauma, fluind is clear oddorless, the is no pain associated twith discharge, pt c/o itching and feeling of fluid leak form the iear. the overall internal exam unremarcable. thanks

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Krutoi

      It could be due to a perforation of the eardrum with or without an infection but this should have been picked up by your doctor. The itching may be an indication of a fungal infection of the canal which often causes itching and a watery discharge which is sometimes described as “water in the ears”. However this should not be “leaking” or “dripping” out but rather would be a slight amount of moisture. CSF should always be ruled even if there is no head trauma if the fluid is “dripping”.

  • Joel Colley

    ..and what is the procedure to r/o a painless CSF leak, esp. when the pt. only notices the clear fluid when reclining?

    • Dr. Chris

      Joel Colley

      This should be discussed with your doctor. We do not provide information for self-diagnosis. Your doctor will first have to confirm the presence of CSF (double ring sign, dextrose test, beta2-transferrin – your doctor knows what this means) and refer you to a neurosurgeon for further investigation and appropriate treatment. A perforation of the ear drum MAY also be detected upon otoscopic investigation in the case of CSF otorrhea.

      Please note that the articles on this website are intended to serve as a guide for the general public. All writers are limited by the editorial guidelines as to what they can and cannot answer to prevent readers from attempting to self-diagnose or undertake any changes to their therapy without their doctor’s supervision. This site is not intended to serve as a resource for medical students or practitioners.

  • Diane Lynten


    What is the cause of a yellowish, foul smelling liquid draining from the ear, in an adult; there’s no pain associated with the discharge or an itching feeling or a head trauma.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Diane

      It is always a concern if this is coming from the middle ear as it can affect hearing. Any discharge that is coming out of the ear indicates a rupture of the ear drum if it stems from the middle ear.This could be glue ear so do not get fooled by the lack of pain or itching. An infection may still be a possibility and this needs to be excluded. You should see an ENT.

      Small abscesses or even infected pimples may occur in the ear canal and drain out. Fungal infections within the ear do result in a a water like liquid that may have a foul odor. This too needs to be attended to by a doctor to prevent any spread of infection.

  • Sabrina Smith

    My 3.5 year old daughter has been complaining of an ear infection for several days but I honestly didn’t think much of it. She’s had tubes for over 2 years and hasn’t had an infection since they were put in. Today she really started crying so my husband and I decided we’d take her first thing in the morning since she was obviously in pain. This evening I noticed that her ear was draining a brownish fluid that has a distinct order. What could this be? With all the infections she had before her tubes, she never had any kind of fluid drainage. She has no fever…

    Thank you in advance.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Sabrina

      It could very well be an infection despite the absence of a fever. It is common in young children of your daughter’s age. The tube (grommets) were put in quite a while back and the eardrum would have ejected it by now. Discharge with an offensive odor coupled with pain if often related to an infection.

      However, not all ear discharge is related to an infection. Nevertheless the ear has to be examined by your doctor. A consultation with an otolaryngologist (ENT specialist) may be necessary as well.

  • Sabrina Smith

    I’m sorry. I meant to type that the drainage has a distinct odor.

  • kastogner

    I have an eight month old who presented with lethargy, low grade fever (100.2), reddish swollen right eye, and a runny nose. This all transpired approximately 36hrs after his arrival back home via airplane from OK. After seeing these symptoms we gave him some acetamenophen PO and put him to bed. The next morning my wife found him lying in bed as usual, but this time with a foul smelling yellowish sticky discharge comming from his ear. It had obviously drained quite a bit because it was also on his face and bed. I have seen our MD but would like a second opinion on the whole “wait and watch”. I do not want any hearing loss or worse as would any parent. He is still very active after finding the discharge. The eye is no longer red and the nose is no longer runny. He did oddly enough sleep for 12.5 hrs last night he has never even slept 8 without at least waking up once. What are you thoughts on this matter. ENT now or should I wait?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Kastogner

      The wait and watch approach is fine if your doctor prescribed a course of antibiotics, even if it was as a precautionary measure. Antibiotic use in the first year of life is best avoided but if the case is as you describe it, then it may be better to be cautious and use it nevertheless. The infection may very well be viral in origin but the possibility of a secondary bacterial infection and the presence of a discharge is worrisome. Seek a second opinion from another GP if you are concerned and cannot see an ENT immediately.

      Children are more prone to ENT infections. I would say do not wait. If you have the option, see an ENT immediately if possible even if your child seems to be getting better. Given the age and possibility of complications especially in this age group, it is better to be cautious, even if it ends up being a wasted trip. However, speak to your GP first and ask him/her for a referral to an ENT who they work with.

  • tasha123

    Hi My son woke up with an ear infection on sunday night i did take him to the walk in on monday and recieved medication for it. Wednesday i noticed darkish almost bright blood discharge coming from his ear It is now Thursday and the discharge is a Bright blood brighter then the day before is this normal or should i take him back to the clinc

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Tasha123

      You should take your son back to the doctor. At this point, there should not be any “fresh” blood unless your son is interfering with his ear or the infection is not resolving. Speak to the doctor.

  • W Heming

    I have been having persistent ear discharge for a week. My hearing has been not right for over two years. I’ve seen a doctor and an ENT about this condition and have been using Fluticasone Proplonate at night as per my doctor for three months. The discharge is clear and has no smell. I can hear it inside my ear when I move my head in certain ways. A slight amount of moisture sometimes comes out of my right ear at night, with a kind of pop noise in my ear, when I am sleeping on my right side. My doctor said the eardrum was drawn in and swollen but could not see any hole. I have noticed that I can not hear as well on the right side and a sensation being clogged or stuffed up. What to do?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi W.Heming

      There may be inflammation in the middle ear that may account for the popping noise and so on but for fluid to be coming out, then the eardrum would have been perforated. It is possible that there is more one condition present here. A cholesteatoma does cause a chronic but smelly ear discharge and it occurs in the middle ear. The eardrum would not be perforated by a slight retraction allows the discharge to exit the middle ear.

      You may have otitis externa and it is most likely due to a fungal infection. Read more on Ear Problems. A fungal infection would result in a clear discharge which has little or no smell. Packing the ear with steroids applied on a cotton wool offers relief in the short term.

      It is difficult to tell you what to do without knowing the exact problem. You should see your ENT again or consult with another ENT if you feel that you need a second opinion.

  • KarenH

    I use soft foam earplugs and this morning the right one had a bloody stain and there was a small amount of blood in the outer canal. I have occasional vertigo diagnosed as imbalance of fluid in inner year and is controlled with daily low dose Triamterene. My hearing is excellent, however I do have “noise” in my ears, like a rushing sound. What could be the cause of the blood leakage?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi KarenH

      Just the presence of blood (without focusing on your other ear related symptoms) may be a sign of otitis externa. This is possibly related to the regular use of earplugs and could be further complicated by an infection. Your doctor will have to examine the area and make a diagnosis.

      Considering your other symptoms, it may also be related to more serious causes of the inner and middle ear. I would advise that you see an ENT (otolaryngologist) as soon as you can. You can get more information on your various symptoms in this article on Ear Problems.

  • Singh

    I am an adult and I have been having a bright Green Discharge coming from my left ear. Sometimes it is slightly bloody but most of the time it is green.
    I have experienced pain, hearing loss, itchiness, swelling around the bottom of my hear (where it meets the jaw), and headaches.
    I have been taking advil for the swelling and pain and it does not help.
    This has been happening for two plus months now.
    Is there a home remedy that can be done or anything else?
    Thank you for your help

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Singh

      It could be a chronic infection and this would require antibiotics, antifungals etc depending on the causative pathogen. You should not leave it for so long as the condition may be progressing and may be reaching a point where little can be done to save your hearing and so on. It may also be a cholesteatoma (read above) or even a tumor. Don’t be looking for home remedies at this point. You need to see a doctor, preferably an ENT specialist (ear-nose-throat/otolaryngologist) IMMEDIATELY.

  • F.Rico

    Could you give me an idea on what I might be experiencing?

    This has been going on for a few months now.
    I get light headed frequently, specially when driving. Don’t think I get vertigo, maybe a little dizzy. A few times when I became very light headed and dizzy my arms started to tingle. Other times my feet tingle. But the tingling hasn’t happened for a while now. Have minor ear pain that lasts a few seconds. Sometimes feels like there’s pressure in my ears. I hear ringing when I try to go to sleep. Ears itch every now and then. Sometimes i put my pinky finger in my ear and wiggle it to relieve an itch and my ear becomes moist. Like fluid coming out. Doesn’t drip but becomes very moist in my car canal. Doesn’t have an oder and looks clear.

    I have gone to my doctor several times and have received all types of antibiotics and anti vert for the lightheadedness but nothing seems to help. Antivert seems to help a little. It all started after an ear infection early this year and I have suffered from all those symptoms since. After the ear infection cleared and my temp was back down to normal I visited my doctor again for the dizziness/lightheadedness and he told me I had fungus infection.

    Do you have any ideas on what I could be suffering from? My next step is to visit an ENT since my family doctor has not helped after several months.. Very frustrated because I can no longer drive my self anywhere or go out much. Any help would be highly appreciated.

    Forgot to mention I had a CT scan done and blood tests and everything came back normal.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi F.Rico

      There are quite a few possibilities for your symptoms.

      The first consideration is whether there is more than one condition present and you and your doctor are being distracted by the ear infection. Given that you do have an ear infection (previously bacterial and now fungal), has your doctor excluded other possibilities like tumors of the inner/middle ear, cholesteatoma, or even this being due to TIA (transient ischemic attacks where blood supply to the brain fluctuates and this precedes a stroker). A CT scan may not conclusively exclude all these possibilities.

      The second consideration is other conditions like Meniere’s disease or even the use of ototoxic drugs and so on.

      Otomycosis (fungal infection of the ear) is quite common although it is not well known to the general public. Typical symptoms include an itchy ear with a clear watery and odorless (or slightly musty odor) discharge from the ear. When “wiggling” your finger in your ear, you will hear that typical “splashy” sound. This however, will not explain your other symptoms.

      I would advise that you see a neurologist as soon as possible. It may still be an ENT problem but then your ENT specialist and the neurologist can work together.

  • Brooke D.

    Hi, I was wondering if someone could give me an idea on what I’ve been experiencing over the past few months? I would really appreciate it.

    A couple of months ago, I began experiencing a frequent clear fluid discharge coming from my ears any time I lay down on a ear. I thought at first it might have been water from when I had taken a shower, but it seemed no matter how hard I tried, the fluid just kept coming. We had some left over floxin ear pain reliever to see if that would help, but it only got rid of some of the pain. I went to the doctor, and he said it wasn’t an infection and he could see about half of the canal was covered with wax. The doctor suggested Debrox ear wax removal. I used that for about two weeks, and it seemed to work a little bit, but then the fluid came back again. I went back to my doctor a second time and I received an antibiotic and a different brand of ear pain drops. Like the first ear drops I had, this only took away the pain, not the fluid. Desperate to find something that would get rid of the fluid, I went back to the doctor and I explained that the pain I felt was inside my ear, and sometimes near my jaw. He said that the pain was due to TMJ and that I should use alcohol to get rid of the fluid. This seemed to work for a few days, but then the fluid began more heavy again. I continued to use this, but now my ears are beginning to crack when I swallow or move my jaw. I also haven’t been able to hear as well and the pain is unbearable. Recently I started having pains in the top back part of my head, but I have not had any serious head injuries for about two years.

    I’ve tried everything to try to make this stop and it seems like I just can’t find a solution. Now, I’m desperate to find some kind of answer. I could really use your help.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Brooker D.

      You need to see an ENT (ear-nose-throat specialist or otolaryngologist) immediately. It is possible that the watery fluid you were seeing was due to a funagl infection which has now complicated further. It is also possible that this could have been CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) due to a leak. Alcohol should never be used in the ear in the manner you describe. The skin lining the ear canal is very sensitive to drying and chemical injury and alcohol can cause this. From what you say, the condition has reached a point where it cannot be managed at home and needs specialist medical attention. See an ENT specialist IMMEDIATELY. Your hearing could be permanently damaged.

  • F.Rico

    Ok, well I went to the ENT a few days ago and he said hecould not see traces of fungus. I’m guessing the antibiotics cleared it up. He did say I had almost zero earwax which would explain the drainage, itch, and ringing. He seemed to ignore the lightheadedness and dizzy feeling I get. I made an appointment for a hearing test and balance test to be performed in a week. What exactly do those test for? Would they help rule out an inner ear infection or problem? I tried asking the ENT but he seemed to be in a hurry and never answered all my questions. I’ll start looking for a neurologist in my area and might make an appointment after the hearing and balance tests. Looking over my CT results and it says “no acute intracranial abnormality is identified”. Would that mean no tumor? Also says “calvaria and skull base are intact. Orbits, paranasal sinuses, and temporal bones are clear”. So, what I’m getting out of your reply and how my ENT pretty much pushed aside the dizzy symptoms, this is more than likely something the ENT can not help with? Thanks for your advice I really appreciate it. I will try your suggestions and hopefully come across something that helps. This has all pretty much paused my life as I can not drive or go anywhere with out feeling light headed/dizzy.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi F.Rico

      This is well within the ENT’s ambit so the lack of interest or concern on his part is confusing. Yes, do the hearing and balance tests. it may help to identify inner ear problems or related conditions like Meniere’s disease etc. The symptoms may not always be obvious at the outset. Dizziness should not be ignored. It may not be due to any serious condition if it is temporary but in this case it is persisting and that has to be investigated. Do those tests, go back to the ENT and if you are not happy, seek a second opinion with another ENT. Also see a neurologist when you can. Antibiotics cannot clear up a fungal infection but then it may not have been a fungal infection to start with. Unfortunately there is only so much advice that can be offered through an online platform. Physical interaction is necessary. Good luck.

  • Caitlin C.

    I recently came down with a very severe case of strep throat, complete with a 103 fever and throat abscesses so I went to the emergency room, and while there I noticed that I had lost most of the hearing in my left ear. It also felt like there was a lot of pressure in my ear (I was told this was because my throat had swollen up so much). I was given a steroid/antibiotic shot, and a penicillin shot, which cleared up everything except my ear problem. It’s been about 6 days, and I’ve noticed my ear just keeps getting worse. I now can’t hear a thing out of it, I can “feel” and hear my heartbeat inside my ear all the time, it’s very tender and swollen and painful right underneath, and yesterday morning my ear started leaking a yellowish-whitish fluid.

    I’m a bit confused because, even if I had an ear infection since I first started getting sick, shouldn’t the penicillin have mostly cleared it up, or at least prevented it from getting worse, especially since there is no more swelling in my throat? How long should I wait for this to clear up before I make an appointment with my doctor?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Caitlin

      Don’t wait. See your doctor immediately. The infection may have been pre-existing and only aggravated and noticed during this acute throat infection. Or you may have some other type of middle ear problem that exacerbated during this episode. Since the hearing is impaired, you should see a doctor immediately. Progression of this condition can permanently damage your hearing. The causative organism may not respond to penicillin despite your throat infection having resolved.

  • Elsy

    So, i came down with an ear infection like 2 days before Thanksgiving. i went to the doctor that Sunday and was prescribed Amoxicillin for 10 days. its been a week now and my ear is still clogged and i have muffled hearing. it gets super itchy and it pops sometimes and i feel liquid in there. is this normal, is it going to go away soon or should i go back to the doctors?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Elsy

      You should have seen the symptoms improve after 2 to 3 days after commencing the antibiotics (sometimes later) and the symptoms may persist, although significantly milder, even after finishing the antibiotics. However, your symptoms appear to be quite intense. You should go back and see your doctor at this point.

  • Elsy

    oh i forgot to mention that i finished all my prescibed doses of amoxicillin.

  • Perplexed

    I’ve been having an on-and-off discharge from both ears (though never both at the same time) for months. The discharge doesn’t have much of an odor, though recently it smells vaguely like mint (I’m not joking!). It’s slightly yellow in color, or at least that what the Q-Tips look like if I swab out my ear. There has never been any pain involved, though I have had the sensation of a leak- where I could swab out my ear, grab my outer ear and move it around some, and feel liquid draining into my ear canal. I went to a sick call earlier this year and mentioned it to my doctor at the time, but he did not notice anything out of the ordinary in my ear. The only annoying effects are the sensation of having liquid in my ear and of the occasional itching. I plan on mentioning it again the next time I see my doctor, but was wondering if this is something that I should be concerned about for any serious health issues or long term consequences. Thanks!

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Perplexed

      A chronic effusion in the middle ear may cause these symptoms. It is often related to a chronic infection. You need to see an otolaryngologist (ENT specialist). Further investigation needs to be conducted to exclude other possibilities like a choleastatoma. The appropriate treatment will then be decided. Do not ignore it as it could lead to complications like hearing loss.

  • Concerned Mom

    Hi – My 4 year old son has already lost one tube and when he was last seen a couple of months ago he still had one remaining tube in his ear. Yesterday I started to see some draining coming out of the ear that still had the tube in it. The drainage is yellow and sticky. Today the drainage has gotten much worse and he’s now complaining that his ear hurts. He almost cried when I put a hat on him and he won’t let my husband and I even close to his ear to try to “blot” up the draining. I’d like to take him to his regular pediatrician tomorrow but I’m wondering if I should take him to urgent care instead? He has no fever and no other symptoms…

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Concerned Mom

      If his hearing is impaired, the pain is severe or if a fever starts up then a visit to the ER is warranted. Otherwise you could wait till the pediatrician appointment tomorrow. However you should speak to a doctor, even if just telephonically, to decide on what you should do as we are not in a position to advise you appropriately since we are not dealing with your son’s case.

  • R M KHAN

    i am having a problem in both ear.sometimes wa watery discharge or quite an 8 to 12 hours later yellowish discharge coming out from the years during night yellowish discharge increased . kindly suugest reason and home remedy if available.

    • Dr. Chris

      RM Khan,

      You need to see an otolarygnologist (ENT specialist) who can examine the area and make a diagnosis. only once the condition is diagnosed can the proper treatment be prescribed. This may be as mild and common as swimmer’s ear or even more serious like a choleastatoma. See a doctor and do not try any home remedies as you could cause damage to your ear and even affect your hearing permanently.

  • bookgirl

    My have a almost 5 year old daughter who has had chronic ear infections. She was adopted 3 1/2 years ago from Vietnam. Since we have had her she has had 3 sets of tubes put in and had the mastoid removed on the right ear. She still is having severe infections. What else can be done? She has lost 50% of her hearing.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Bookgirl

      Without knowing the exact cause, it is impossible to tell you what more can be done. Hopefully you are seeing an otolaryngologist (ENT specialist) who can advise you further and has excluded less common conditions like a choleastatoma. Recurrent infections and non-responsiveness to medication may be an indication of an immune disorder. The difficult part here is that you may not be aware of the child’s full medical history especially in infancy which could be contributing factors to the current condition(s). Speak to your pediatrician about further tests, apart from the ear condition.

  • yayi

    hello. my daughter has had cough and fever for 3days now. just this pm, i noticed that she has a discharge on the ear. it’s not bloody, just white and a little sticky. what could it be?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Yayi

      It could be that the infection she has has progressed up into the ear. You should take her to a doctor because ear infections in kids can be notoriously persistent and may lead to other complications if left untreated. See a doctor immediately.

  • Adrianna

    Ive had severe ear pain starting last night. I couldn’t sleep and i went to the doctor this morning.He diagnosed me with URI the when i got home, clear red liquid started dishcharging from my ears. Is this still URI and will it be treated with the same antibiotics?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Adrianna

      An upper respiratory tract infection can involves the ears and could account for the discharge. However given the appearance which indicates the presence of blood, you should see an ENT specialist (otolaryngologist) immediately to exclude other pathology that may be existing simultaneously. You would want to avoid complications that could affect your hearing in the long run.

  • tennille

    Sooo. I have read a whole lot about ears now. Kinda worried, but at the same time not worried. I have had clear fluid that comes out of my ears all the time and some times I cant even handle the itch in my ear. Drives me insane. This started about 2 1/2 years ago when I was pregnant. I don’t have insurance, so I just deal with it. IS THAT BAD?

    • Hi Tennille. It is difficult to say with any certainty what could be causing it. You should see a doctor. One of the common causes is a fungal infection of the outer ear which causes itching and a clear discharge. Unlike bacterial infections, a fungal infection does not usually progress to cause serious complications. And it can persist for long periods of time – even years. Of course this is just one possibility and there is no way of knowing for sure that this is the problem in your case. Water entering your ears, when swimming or bathing, can also irritate the ear canal and cause itching. Excessive cleaning with cotton wool buds can also be a possible cause and this also predisposes your ear canal to fungal infections. Your doctor will have to investigate further to give you a definitive answer.

    • fran

      I have the same thing. I had a horrible cold which I got a bad ear infection. My ears popped and fluid has been running out since. That was almost 7 yrs ago. I went to ear cuz the pain in my ears got so bad. They did ct scans x rays all that to no avail. When my allergies act up it gets worse and i have to put cotton balls in them to keep from draining on my clothes. It creates sores in my ears alot. It itches none stop when it starts to drain. They gave me a 3 in one ear drop at er that I use when it gets really bad. It’s a fungal eardrop. It works for a few days. I purchased an occasional ear drop that’s home patio from Dg in rexall brand that helps on days when it’s not to bad. My right ear drains the worst. I’ve had several drs ck it out over the 7 yrs but no one knows what it is.

  • darlene

    i am not having the the ear discharge from my inter ear but from behind my ear and it drys up and leave a crusty film on the back of my ear and it been like this for months i have tried every thing lotion Vaseline to antibiotic ointment and nothing works it sometimes cracks my ears and it hurts is there something wrong ? thank you for letting me post

    • Hi Darlene. There are number of skin conditions that can affect the folds of the skin behind th ears. One of the more common skin problems in this area is seborrheic dermatitis but other types of dermatitis, psoriasis and even some skin infections can arise behind the ear. You should be looking at these skin problems, and not ear conditions for more information. It is best to see your doctor and have him/her examine the area and diagnose the condition. Many skin conditions appear in a very similar way and is difficult to self-diagnose without a medical professional. You can find more information and pictures on seborrheic dermatitis on this link

  • Daniel

    Recently, I have had an ear infection in my right ear. It was not a severe one, and it was caused by a sickness I had prior to the infection or something like that. Then, after the infection was healed, I noticed that my right ear started to produce this foul-smelling transparent liquid. My left ear does not secrete the liquid, so I am curious as to what it is. It can’t really be seen, but I know it’s there because it is itchy and it feels wet. Any ideas as to what it is?

    • Hi Daniel. There is no way for us to say for sure what it may be but this could be an ear infection. It may not have healed or it could have recurred. Or an entirely new infection could have arises. It may be in the outer or middle ear. The concern here is that a middle ear infection can progress and lead to complications such as mastoiditis. So do not leave it unchecked. Speak to your doctor ASAP.

  • Sandra Galindo

    Hi my 5 year old son had an ear infection about two weeks ago so we took him to the Dr and he prescribed amoxicillin. We gave him his antibiotics and he seemed ok up until the day before yesterday. We took him back to the Dr yesterday and he gave him a new antibiotic. When we got home my son told us his ear was leaking. He had a mucus like liquid coming out of his ear. I’m not sure if I should take him back to the Dr. tomorrow or let the antibiotics work.

    • Hi Sandra. This is not uncommon where an ear infection recurs immediately after the antibiotics are completed or a second course of often stronger antibiotics are required. As a general rule, if you are in doubt then see your doctor immediately. This drainage is not uncommon in middle ear infections but your doctor needs to see whether there has been a rupture of the eardrum and if ventilation tubes (grommets) are necessary. If you want a second opinion then see an otorhinolaryngologist (ENT specialist).

  • cheryl

    My daughter, 16, complained of her ear “not popping” such as being on an airplane. She has a clear liquid which smells foul coming out. Could this be swimmers ear? She dives everyday.

    • Hi Cheryl. Yes this could be swimmer’s ear. It is important to have this checked up by a doctor. Sometimes the problem can even be in the middle ear or there may be a rupture of the eardrum with the diving. It could be even more serious conditions like mastoiditis although swimmer’s ear seems the most likely cause here. Speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

  • dina

    hello my daughter got vents in over 2 yrs ago. to date she has been brillant. towards the end of July 2014 she took a ear infection – brought to docs and he prescribe anit bot. once that bottle was finish about 2 x wks later the ear infection appeared again. i took her back to doc and they gave her a white coloured anti bot. finished it about a wk later she had another ear infection all relating to the same ear so she was given another 2 x bottles of white anti bot. last night she was complaning of sore ear again and i look inside and there was this brown sticky like wax? worried parent. what can you advise?

    • Hi Dina. Vents placed 2 years ago will not have any bearing on what is happening now. She may need vents again. Recurrent antibiotic use in this manner is not advisable since the infection is recurring so quickly after treatment. You need to take your daughter to an otorhinlaryngologist (ENT specialist) who can assess her condition and take the appropriate measures. Do not leave it as it can affect her hearing, balance and so on which may have longer lasting complications.

  • izzy

    Iv had a blocked ear for 5 weeks now. Cant hear out of it at all apart from a high pitched sound. Started feeling very unwell. Smelly discharge coming out aswell. Feel very dizzy as if im moving when im not and very nauseated. Feels almost like travel sickness but im not moving ? That side of my face and head feel very pressurized and heavy, have funny turns of cold sweats and sickness where ill have to lie down for around 25 mins for it to go away but then its back. As of yet iv had no pain. Slight tenderness but nothing really.

    • Hi Izzy. Don’t wait for the pain to start before seeking medical attention. Some very serious conditions can be present despite the lack of pain. Your symptoms are highly suggestive of a middle ear infection and the concern is whether complications like mastoiditis have started. This is just one possibility but given your symptoms you should be seeing a doctor immediately.

      • izzy

        I saw my gp. But to be honest wasent very helpful , because of how swollen my ear is he didnt even look in it. Asked me to stand up but i was about to be sick. So he just gave me a spray to spray in my ear 3 times a day and if symptoms persist go to hospital but without trying to waste their time he said, However since then (last 2 days) iv had terrible migrain feeling headaches behind both eyes makes the sickness worse after a nights sleep its gone but then comes back everyday. And have also been physically sick a number of times.

  • Adrienne Schmidt

    Im having a draining feeling inside my skin by ear and jaw?? Help

    • Hi Adrienne. It is not entirely clear what you mean by “a draining feeling”. If you are trying to say that this may be due to a discharge “leaking” or “dripping” then this is possible but very unlikely. Usually you would not feel the discharge in this way. You do not provide much information so it is difficult to say what other possibilities could be responsible for this symptom. It is best to consult with your doctor.

  • Carly White

    i have the same problem .. ive been sticking my fingers in my ears and itching them .. and now theyre sore and itchy and leaking a foul smelllinh discharge and still hurting what is it help !!!

    • Hi Carly. This could be the common swimmer’s ear (otitis externa) which is originating from the ear canal. However, it is worthwhile to get it checked up in case the eardrum is perforated and the discharge is arising from the middle ear. Your doctor will be able to advise you further.

  • Oscar Lilone

    I hear a popping noise on my right ear and discharge comes out I also lose my balance I feel like if im drunk, my head starts to hurt and my hands go numb to. I dont have insurance or a doctor what to do?

    • Hi Oscar. Despite your lack of medical insurance, some of these symptoms like stupor, headache and hand numbness, are very serious and need to be investigated further by a doctor. It could be the early warning signs of a stroke. The discharge from the ear and popping noise may be a separate condition altogether, such as an outer ear infection. A doctor will need to examine you, possibly run further tests and then reach a conclusive diagnosis.

  • Lynne

    Is it remotely possible that bilateral, clear to yellow, watery discharge from ears could be related to spinal surgery which almost occurred simultaneously? Along with the ear symptoms is resting as well as exertional dyspnea requiring constant oxygen use. Our ENT specialist, PCP and pulmonologist have been consulted, ENT several times, PCP several times and pulmonologist once with followup this month. Patient is a heart transplant recipient on multiple medications.

    • Hi Lynne. While it may be a possibility (the human body does not always work according to set rules), it is unlikely that the ear discharge is related to the spinal surgery unless there was also some procedure done to the skull. Other possibilities should be consider but since the patient is consulting with several specialists it is best to consider their advice and follow treatment accordingly. The fact that the patient had a heart transplant and is using several medications simultaneously means that any treatment or change in treatment should be done very carefully and overlooked by a specialist in the respective field.

  • Amanda Monn

    Hello I have been battling an ear infection for about three weeks. It started with some clear drainage that smells sour. I went ti the doctor, 1/6/15 gave me shot of antibiotics,and steroids. Gave prescription of cipro and a steroid predinazone. However, I have began to feel numbness in the ear, kind of like a thick feeling. Along with drainage still smelly, can here ringing constant now. Along with hearing like my heart beat every now in then in that ear, like my pulse. Also, it feels like something is in there. It especially leaks at night. I apply heating pads to that side thinking that it will loosen the fluid to drain, and it seems to work, and it drains more. I do get a slight head ache now and again. Along with hearing loss. I am going back to the doctor when I get the money, going to try to get them to look at it tomorrow, when I take my daughter in. I do not have insurance and have to pay cash money. I live on one income a month and seeing the doc. earlier in the month has left my budget out of question till the first. I am very worried about this on the count it does not seem to e letting up, or getting any better. It has become very nerve recking, aggravating and bothersome. Especially when I do not know what it is or why it is not getting any better. Can you please tell me what it might be. Please, or what it sounds like.

    • Hi Amanda. Hopefully you did take the medication as prescribed. It could be a persistent infection that may need another course of antibiotics. The concern here is whether there could also be underlying causes like a cholesteatoma which may be predisposing you to this infection.

      Furthermore a cholesteatoma can cause other symptoms like ringing in the ears (tinnitus), hearing loss, vertigo and weakness of the facial muscles if it affects your facial nerve. You may want to read up more about a cholesteatoma here (

      Please note that we are not saying that you have a cholesteatoma for sure. We cannot diagnose you online but simply put forward possible conditions. Your symptoms could be due to a host of other conditions and all your symptoms may not even be related to the ear problem.

      You should follow up with your doctor and hopefully you are consulting with an otorhinolaryngologist (ear nose throat specialist).

  • sean Singley

    I’m 25 and I have brown gooey stuff building in my ear. It smells so bad. This has been happening for over 2 months now. And I can’t hear out of that ear. What could be the cause of this

    • Hi Sean. This may be glue ear (usually a childhood problem) or something rare like a cholesteatoma, although it is difficult to say for sure as there are many possible causes (refer to the article above). The fact that you are now experiencing hearing loss is a cause for concern. You may have left this condition for too long. Speak to your family doctor immediately. You need to consult with an ENT specialist as soon as possible. The hearing loss may still be reversible but if left unattended there is a possibility that it may become permanent, depending on the underlying cause.

  • Gena

    Last Sunday it started out as a sore throat and by that evening turned into sinus pressure and congestion. Tuesday morning I woke at 3 am with what felt like a knife being stabbed into my right ear. I put some ear drops in it and held a warm cloth on it until the pain subsided. By Wednesday both of my ears were now hurting and draining with the nasty yellow drainage. I got into the Dr. on Thursday and got a shot and zpak. I finished the medication and I am completely deaf in both ears and the drainage has gotten to be reddish/brown in my right ear but the same yellowish in left ear. I still have sinus pressure and jaw pain on my right side. I called and made an appointment with my ENT for Monday. Did I do the right thing and can my hearing loss be reversed?

    • Hi Gena. Yes, consulting with an ENT is a good idea. Hopefully you did go back to your doctor after completing the antibiotics. This follow up consultation will assist your doctor in verifying whether the infection has resolved or not and whether another course of antibiotics would be necessary. Given the hearing loss at this point, a specialist consultation is advisable. We cannot say with any certainty if this hearing loss is reversible, however acute infections like this that are properly treated will eventually lead to the resolution of symptoms with no permanent complications in most cases. Hopefully this is the case here.

      • Connie

        Hi my son had tubes put in his ears last year & lately has been having a clear discharge with a smelly odor what can that be?

        • Hi Connie. The question here is whether this discharge is coming from the middle ear or outer ear. Most tubes fall off anywhere as early as 4 months and up to 12 months. If it has fallen off and the eardrum has healed then it could very well be from the outer ear like in conditions such as otitis externa (also known as swimmer’s ear). Alternately this could be coming from the middle ear which was obviously the problem he had in the past for which the tubes were inserted. While tubes can help greatly at the time it is not a permanent solution. You should go back to the otorhinolaryngologist (ENT specialist) who was handling his case.

  • Christina Copeland

    help! Not sure what’s going on with my right ear, now for the past 2 years I have had ear drainage, about every 3 to 4 months I’m at my Dr’s with an cold or ear pain and she says my ear has been draining and puts me on antibiotics, why is my ear doing this?

    • Hi Christina. If there is no rupture of the eardrum then the discharge is originating from the outer ear, most likely within the ear canal. One of the possible causes is an outer ear infection (otitis externa) which is also know as swimmer’s ear. It is called this because it is more likely to occur with frequent swimming. But any water that can enter the ear canal on a regular basis can cause it. Another possibility is that you may be using cotton buds to clean out the earwax. Unfortunately many people do not realize that wax is not a sign of poor hygiene.

      Wax is very necessary for the health of your ear. If the eardrum is ruptured then it is possible that the discharge is from a middle ear infection (otitis media). You may also want to read up on another condition known as cholesteatoma. Whatever the case you should be consulting with an ENT specialist at this point. While the antibiotics may help to resolve each infection, the underlying problem is not being attended to. This requires specialist assessment and treatment.

  • rick brock

    I have had ear drainage for about a year now…it only seems to go away when I go swimming…at a rec center for a few days in a row…..Then when it returns(not long)inside of ears have healed…so pressure builds until they burst,so to say…can be painful to say the least…then they leak the same yellowish green fluid,until I go swimming again….I have seen doctor,meds clear it up for a week or so,…Is it possible beer is a factor?I drink 3-4 beers a day?

    • Hi Rick. It is unlikely but not impossible that your alcohol consumption could be playing a role. Exceeding the recommended daily intake of alcohol can weaken our immune system which in turn may increase the likelihood of infections setting in. But from what you describe there is probably more at play here. If alcohol alone was a factor then the infection would not only be isolated to the ears. There may be some underlying factor in the ear that needs to be identified and treated. Hopefully you are consulting with otorhinolaryngologist (ENT specialist).

  • Joey

    For the last two days I have been having Intense pain in my left ear, and A Lot of pressure causing me to have loss of hearing. Today I noticed that a blackish dark green, almost swamp water colored liquid in my ear..I have a doctors appointment in 2 days, but I’m wondering if I should get to urgent care Now..I’ve been having nausea as well as migraines because of this. What is this??

    • Hi Joey. Hopefully by now you have seen the doctor and started with the treatment. The fact that hearing loss is occurring makes this condition quite serious. Ensure that your adhere to the treatment as prescribed. In most acute cases hearing loss associated with these symptoms will restore with proper treatment and there should be no permanent complications. Delaying medical care could lead to complications and possibly even permanent hearing loss.

  • rochelle

    hi..last year i consulted a doctor cause of excessive use of cooton buds my ear starts discharging sometimes watery,sometimes sticky light yellow but not smelly..and my ear itch..doc just given me trizole and symptoms keep coming back over and will only be gone for some time but every time i use cotton buds the next day my ear would be watery hurts a little but kinda pls..

    • Hi Rochelle. Firstly you need to STOP using cotton buds. Contrary to what you may have heard, cotton buds are NOT good for your ear health. There is absolutely no need to clean your ears. The body has its own mechanisms to trap dust and germs in the air through earwax and then expel it. Cotton buds cause may ear problems, especially if you clean excessively or too deep. It could make your ears prone to infections like you experienced in the past or even lead to impacted wax. It is advisable that your consult with an ENT specialist (otorhinolaryngologist) at this point.

  • Greg h

    I have had a plugged ear for about 2 months now with some different symptoms. It started out with ringing and pain. I was never sick, it just started one morning on my way to work. I took a aleve for a few days then went to urgent care when the pain got intense. I was told I had swimmers ear and given ear drops. Used the drops for about 3 weeks which only helped a little with the pain. Ear stayed plugged. I went to my doctor who said it didn’t appear infected, but he gave me an antibiotic and had the nurse flush out my ear. An inch long white mucus like plug came out and I had relief for about a day. No odor to the substance. Thought I was cured then it plugged up again the following day. Called the doctor who referred me to a ear nose and throat doctor who was booked out for 3 weeks. My symptoms now are the ear is plugged morning and night with loud ringing in my head. It sometimes clears up late morning after standing/walking. Severe itching has started and if I use my finger and rub gently I continue to get a wet, clear fluid discharging. Sometimes I get a bit of the waxy mucus plug on my finger as well. Still no odor. But I am losing sleep and going nuts! Not too much pain except soreness from rubbing when it itches all day. Why won’t it clear out?!? Thank you.

    • HI Greg. Sounds like otitis externa (swimmer’s ear) and the ENT will be able to assist you accordingly. Hopefully you are not using cotton buds or any other object to scratch or clean out your ear. This will just make the condition worse. It is possible that this is not just bacterial and there may be a fungal infection as well. Fungal infections of the ear canal may not always present with typical inflammatory symptoms indicative of an infection. However, there is also the possibility for deeper lying and more serious conditions here which your ENT will assess and treat.

  • Reyna

    My friend blew an air horn in my right ear cuz I wasn’t paying attention to whatever she was saying. My right ear rang the whole day. Now, my left ear occasionally rings. Every morning when I put my earbuds in my ear, clear, liquidy discharge comes out of my ear.

    • Hi Reyna. This is a very reckless and dangerous prank. The loud sound obviously hurt your ear and even if you don’t realize it now your hearing is most likely diminished as well. The ringing is often a symptom of this type of injury. Sometimes in acute injuries like this there may be some fluid discharge due to inflammation. The concern hear is whether the eardrum has been ruptured or not. The fluid that you are experiencing could be from the middle ear if the eardrum is torn. However, it is also possible that the fluid is a separate condition like otitis externa. Please do not delay. You must seek medical attention to assess the extent of the damage, if any. It is very likely that this will resolve in time and there will be no permanent complications. However you need a medical professional to assess it first.

  • Sonam Goel

    m 21 and m suffering from ear discharge( left ear) from childhood, first i used to pour medicine that time then it stopped but now again after 8- 9 yrs it again discharging in same ear . it sometimes stopped automatically and then restart after some days i went to doctor , he gives medicines bt it is good for some days only then again it restart, can u tell me the permanent way to stop it?? can u suggest me any medicine or drop,

    • Hi Sonam. It is unlikely that this is a continuation of the condition from childhood. If your hearing is not affected in any way then it is likely that this is an outer ear infection (otitis externa). This is a common infection particularly among people who swim and is therefore also called swimmer’s ear. Even if you don’t swim, water may getting into your ears during bathing. It is further aggravated by cleaning the ear with cotton swabs. However, you don’t know the diagnosis and we cannot answer for sure. You should see an ENT specialist at this point and have it assessed.

  • Efernal Death

    About 2 years ago I had a basic ear infection where I torn a small hole through the eardrum to release pressure. After that the infection went away with the help of antibiotics However in the following 2 years I slowly lost my hearing and I have a persistent ringing in my ear. 2 Weeks ago I could hear water and within 24 hours my eardrum ruptured..Mind you in those 2 years I was told my eardrum was fine and my doctor couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Anyhow after it burst and lot’s and I mean lots of water came out I pick out crystallized ear wax that was getting pushed out of my inner ear. Now I have a constant drainage from the ear that smalls like a Yeast infection. On the upside I have some hearing back. I do have insurance but I cant afford to loose any days of work to get anything done about it. Even 2 days off will screw me over.
    I’ve read that it could be a fungal infection that can be washed away with rubbing alcohol and white vinegar mix at a ph level of 4.5. Applied until I cant stand it and the infection goes away. Could I just hold off on getting any remaining crystallized wax out until I can afford to take off work in about 2 years?

  • Sharron

    I’ve about whined myself to death with the so called Drs here. I was in a MOTORCYCLE accident 4 years ago, resulting in brain surgery on the left side of my brain. I’m recovering now from a repertory infection. One night I was woken by a rush of clear liquid from my left ear , which I was resting on, it was so much that it actually wet my hair! I went to my DR , who sent me to an ENT, but gave me a very short exam….less than 2 mins for the ENT dr.!!!! both said I had no puncture to my eardrum.
    I still have sharp pains in the ear and some fluid build up there. I have no clue how to proceed or what to do to alleviate the pain in me ear!!! HELP ME PLEASE!!!!! what really throws me is they both kept asking if I’d been to the ER!!!! and NO I hadn’t? that’s what the Drs are for!!!

    • Hi Sharron. This is unfortunate but all we can advise is that you see an ENT specialist. If you are visiting doctors in a national health system then it may be time to consider seeing a private specialist. Whether this ear problem is related to your previous trauma is difficult to say for sure. But you really do need proper medical attention. Searching for the answers on your own will delay prompt medical treatment.

  • Jon Sanderson

    I have had tinnitus for the past 2 years and my left ear has contained a lot of brown ear wax (havent noticed any odour). I never used to have to clean my ears at all and dont really like doing it now. My left ear is also a bit itchy sometimes. All this seemed to be preceeded by a swollen painful lymph node under my left ear. Could this be an ongoing infection? What can I do about it? TIA

    • Hi Jon. Ear wax is normally brown and is supposed to be there (in your ear). You should NOT be removing it. The wax will naturally push out and more wax will be produced. Cleaning should stop just outside the ear canal. When you interfere with the ear by cleaning out the wax you can cause a host of problems. Firstly you increase the chance of infections. Chronic fungal infections of the ear canal (otitis externare not uncommon among people who clean their ears excessively and this may be the reason for the itching. Secondly your tinnitus is not usually related to infections and from what you describe there is no indication of a TIA. Nevertheless it should not be ruled out until you see a medical doctor. It may be advisable to consult with an ENT specialist (otorhinolaryngologist).

  • breana

    I just got an ear infection about 4 days ago. The pain was unbearable but over the counter ear drops & ibephronine took the pain away. I no longer have pain but one of my ears has yellow discharge coming out of it, my other ear feels like it needs to pop but won’t & i also have faded hearing since I got the infection. If I drain my ear will my hearing come back?

    • Hi Breana. Hopefully the drainage will be done by a medical professional. Do not attempt to do any such procedure on your own. We cannot say for sure whether your hearing will return. You need to discuss this with the doctor who is treating you as he/she is familiar with your case. You may also want to consult with an otorhinolaryngologist (ENT specialist) as well.

  • joseph

    hello , my son is suffering from ear draining without fever or sever pain since born , doctors had treated him with anti-inflammatory drugs such as ???Augmentin-ES or anti-allergic , in his third year his doctor installed tubes through his ear drum , but the draining never stops and always without pain or fever only fluids , now he is 4 years old and the fluids keep draining from his ear (most of time right ear) and it started to make him Psychic problems especially when his ear drains in school , if you’ve been with a similar case please inform me with the causes and the treatement steps because my son’s doctor couldn’t treat him ,

  • My 13 y.o. daughter has constant dark brown drainage from her ears. It is a constant issue it is always all over her out ear and I clean the outer ear portion for her. She is self conscious about it. She also has asthma. She just finished a Z-pack but after her shower today she still had the drainage. She to my knowledge has not had any type of bump on the head since she was a toddler and she had a MRI and was given a clean bill of health. Should I take her to see an ear nose throat specialist. I have never seen anyone with this amount of drainage and don’t want her to have to live the rest of her life with this happening.

  • Muhammed Conteh.

    Hi I am 20 years of age and I’m experiencing some pain in my ear and a whitish yellow or greenish substance drips down from my left ear. It now the 5th day since it started. I was cleaning my ears with cotton bud when the cotton got stuck in my left ear. The next day it started aching and the following day I went to the hospital and it was removed. However the doctor never prescribed anything so I thought it wasn’t serious and I didn’t bother or worry myself. Later that night, my ear started secreting a whitish fluid but when I used a white cloth to wipe it, I discovered they it was a greenish yellow substance when dry. Today I returned back to the hospital and the doctor prescribed some drugs for me but they do not seem to avail me in any way. The pain is still stabbing and the fluid has become denser almost to the colour of pus but it is almost odorless. I am in pain now and I need help.

  • Adeela Asim

    Hi, I m 32 and 2 months before suddenly I had a clear fluid like discharge started from my ear and I felt pain too but after taking my antibiotic pain is gone but fluid is still there now it automatically stop and start. At night time I suffer with it most I can’t sleep Bcoz of to much discharge . I have to put cotton ball in my ear which is also becoming totally wet after few hours now I m totally confused what to do …. Pls tell me that is it a serious problem??

  • Penny Levalley

    I have fluid behind the ear drum for 8 to 9 months. The Dr. Told me that it was allergies and told me to take alagra and singular for the allergies. Went to him again with problems worsened and but me on a antibiotic 2 different kinds and still have the same problem. I had a small itch in my ear today and there was blood on it and my balance is off. Yesterday it was hurting and I slept pretty much of the day on a heating pad which had helped some of the pain. What else can I do because I can not see a ent till the 9th of July?

  • Angel N Brian

    hi I wanted to ask a question. I
    have a 3 year old grand daughter who had tubes put in about maybe 1 – 2 years ago. For about a month now she has had bleeding in one of her ears and has a fowl smell. We contacted the doctor and they said maybe her tube fell concerned because its sometime old dry blood but also last night it was fresh brite red blood. Taking her to doctor today but im worried it is something serious.

    • Hi Angel. Hopefully it has resolved by now. If she is not seeing an ENT specialist (otorhinolaryngologist) then you should consult with one. It is unlikely that the tubes are still in place from 2 years ago and this could be an entirely new problem. A follow up consultation, preferably with an ENT specialist, would be advisable at this point. Do not delay because depending on the underlying condition it can progress to complications and affect her balance and hearing in time.

  • Krystian Eguridu

    hello…am having similar problem as that of tennille, mine started 2years ago. yellow fluid coming out of my ear but not itching me though. can you prescribe anything for me please?

  • renee

    Hi,I my right ear has fluid coming out been like that for 3days now I’ve been to see doctor was given antibiotics but now I’m feeling numbness in my left side of face …

    • HI Renee. It’s very important that you follow up with the doctor if you have not done so as yet. It seems your conditions is progressing and can lead to severe complications if left untreated. Do not try to self-manage the condition. Speak to a doctor ASAP.

      • Rose

        Hi my name is Rose, for the last 8 months or so. My ears drain clear fluid and itch. After it itches and drains, dries a white flaky scale like substance. I do have to say when it drains, the fluid burns because my ear canal is irritated. Sometimes it has a foul smell. Is this fungal or non fungal is my question. Is it allergies? Please help

  • Steven Shepard

    Well my right ear has been draining for at least a month now if not longer. Sometimes it’s clear and sometimes it’s a light yellow. Don’t really have a bad smell, it has a little bit of a smell sometimes and there has not been any pain whatsoever thus far. Can anyone tell me what might be going on?

  • Steven Shepard

    Well my right ear has been draining for about a month now or a little longer. The fluid is clear sometimes and sometimes it is a light yellow with hardly a smell to a little bit of a smell. No pain whatsoever thus far. Can anyone tell me what is possibly going on? Is it infected? Just curious, please someone help me out.

  • shashi

    I m 69 yes old lady ,I have ear leakage in a very mild form. I got ear operated in 1985 ,since then no problem I faced. Only few days ago this leakage from the same operated ear has started .It is sticky and white little pale . Please reply and suggest too .

  • Krystal

    Hi, I’ve had an ear issue for about two weeks now. I can’t ear out of my right ear. I did the basic stuff at first thinking it was

    Just water from showering or maybe a minor ear infection. Well now I’m worried I tried cleaning it out with tissue and I got this dark discharge kinda the consistency of eye boogers and also what looked like skin but a grayish color. It does hurt sometimes unbearable. Any ideas?? I do not have insurance so I’m trying whatever I can before racking up a large bill. Thank you

  • Randy

    I have a very bad drainage from my left ear it smells like something dead it itches a lot and at night it drains worse I have ringing in my ear and been light headed and dizzy I have had problems with my left ear for as long as I can remember it’s driving me crazy I need help with what I should do about finding out what it is

    • Hi Randy. As you can see from the article above there are many possibly causes and this needs to be investigated immediately by a doctor because of more serious symptoms like dizziness. Do not delay. If your family doctor is not able to provide answers you should consult with an ENT specialist (ear/nose/throat or otorhinolaryngologist). The foul smelling discharge on its own is a cause for concern but when combined with the ringing and dizziness, it warrants immediate attention.

  • Pranay Sharma

    Hloo sir,
    From past 25 days when i get upin d morning a hard like material is there in both of my ears..when I clean that a clear fluid starts coming out from both ears.. Also a plasma type yellow fluid i find in d middle of ears when I clean them n has very bad odour…
    One more thing that I was having cold before this problem came into being…
    Today d ENT specialist gave me :-
    1. Lorcin-Bc ear drop
    2.Ferocef O-200 tablets
    3.fexodive-180 tablets

    Will u plz tell me that is the doctor giving me right treatment?

  • Andrew Min


    So I previously had cholesteatoma in my right ear and had a mastoidectomy performed (several years ago). Yesterday, I started to get this clogged feeling as if I had a wax buildup like I did before. The pressure seems to have subsided but I’ve started to get this watery yellow liquid coming out of my ear. It’s not frequent but whenever I tilt my head, I seem to get a little bit of it. What do you think it is? I’m thinking that it’s a wax buildup… but I don’t want to self diagnose too much.

  • Andrew Min

    I had a mastoidectomy to clear out cholesteatoma a few years back and as of yesterday, the ear that had the operation is having an issue. I do have some pressure build up and I’m getting a yellowish fluid coming out of my ear. It doesn’t come out unless I til my head. I did use a qtip and I’m wondering if I went too far and is the cause of this. What do you think?

    • Hi Andrew. This could be a recurrence of the cholesteatoma or it could be an entirely separate ear problem. You should definitely consult with an otorhinolaryngologist (ENT specialist) to verify the cause. There is quite a high risk of cholesteatomas recurring and the only way to be sure is to undergo an examination. Rather not wait any longer and get professional medical advice.

  • Susan

    A couple of years ago I had a recurring ear infection which eventually went away, but ever since I have had thick, yellow, foul smelling discharge from one ear, and some hearing loss. My hearing seems muffled in that ear. Sometimes the ear is itchy. There is no pain or swelling. What could this be?

  • I never had ear wax issues until I did one of those saline nasal flushes and ended up almost deaf in one of my ears. After reading up about the nasal flushes, they are not good for all people. After I got my full hearing back, my ears canals started to get itchy and I’d feel fluid draining from them, coming down to the enterace/exit of the ear. It felt like when your ears get clogged when swimming, then at night u lay down with that ear facing downward, on the pillow, and all of a sudden you feel the fluid drain out and u can hear again. It’s bothers some, so I use the top of my finger with a little tissue paper or paper towel covering it, and yes, I stick it in my ear. Not far, just a very little, and wiggle my finger around, I feel like I look like a dog scratching it’s ears. This actually draws the fluid out onto the paper, like wiping up a spill, it’s absorbed. I have to repeat this a few times, to real feel like my ear canals are drier. This happens at least once everyday. The paper towel is colored lights get yellow, no blood, no green infection. So, I wonder if the nasal flush did something, not necessarily damaged some part of the ear and nose parts, but I feel like it opened something up, allowing was to drain out more. Anyone else have this reaction o the nasal cleanse?

  • Bianca

    My ears itch so bad and they be so sore at times. Now I’m noticing them leaking with a smell it’s been this way for almost 2 years should I go get them checked????

  • Laura Holt

    my son is 8 years old and started bleeding from his ear 3 weeks ago had 3 lots of antibiotics.ear biotics hasn’t cleared up.hes never had any pain with it either. had more leaking out of ear last night with bits of white tissue type in the fluid. can’t see ENT for 2 months but I’m quite concerned as he struggles to hear out of thst ear too.

  • Sarah Richardson

    In 2006 I was taking a scuba diving class and coughed under water pushing water into my inner ears. I had a double ear infection. Ever since I feel like there is glue inside my ear. I was diagnosed with eustation tube dysfunction by azu university. How can I still have this problem 10 years later? There has always been clicking if I swallow from all the glue in there. I stopped going to the ent cause all they do is give me nasal spray. I DONT HAVE ALLERGIES. I moved from up north to south with no change and its year round no change, no sneezing, no itchy eyes. I need help. Can you recommend a GOOD ent doc in az that will help me solve this problem once and for all and do real tests? Not just assume its allergies. Accchs. I also get clear fluid drainage in the morning after I wake up, no color no smell. I get headaches radiating. From where my skull meets my c1. I don’t know if the leakage is from my cerebral fluid, I doubt it but my quality of life is so much worse than before. Everything since is slightly muffled from all the “glue” in there. Help.

  • roseann

    hello my 22 month son had bilateral tubes placed about 6 weeks ago.
    day of surgery he had very bad active bialteral ear infection.
    he was given antibiotic ear drops 10 days bid
    that didnt help, they changed it to ciprodex again 10 days bid
    since this we have been back to ENT, where they suction more puss from both ears, right still being the worse.
    after that he was seen at his pediatrician, aagain for drainage and puss, ears still infected , told to go back on ear drops.
    last night I was cleaning his ears before putting drops again, and noticed both ears crusty, and right ear still has drainage and puss.
    i dont think this is normal !
    Im worried about hearing loss in right ear
    help ?

  • Susan Cupit

    i had a swollen ear canal and soreness and pull on my ear lob and fallt a pop and then had a clear fluid and blood come out now it looks like a sore and i had put alcohol on it but still a litte worried about it

  • Hi cj. You should seek medical attention immediately. It is possible that the pus and pain is not related to your surgery as so many years has passed. The only way to know for sure is for your doctor to assess you. Delaying can lead to serious complications (depending on the cause). Hopefully you have already seen a medical professional by now.

  • Ashley Prouse

    My nephew is having problems with his ears. He had tubes put in about a year ago. Its draining, has a little foul smell to it. And his ears are swollen. What could be making this happen?.

    • Hi Ashley. As stated in the article above, there are several different causes of the symptoms that he is experiencing. Glue ear or otitis media need to be considered here but this has to be assessed by a doctor as your reports may not include all aspects of the condition. Hopefully your nephew is seeing an otorhinolaryngologist (ear, nose, throat or ENT specialist). The tubes that he had in previously are most likely no longer in place and his current episode may be entirely different.