Ear discharge generally points towards an infection in the ear. This may be due to an infection of the external ear or of the middle ear.
External / outer ear infection generally present with pain in the ear and swelling in the ear canal. This may cause blockage sensation in the ear. This is more commonly seen in patients who have diabetes or are immunodeficient.
Middle ear infection can cause discharge from the ear. Depending on the type of infection or the pathology, middle ear can present with different types of discharge. The acute infection present with ear pain and blood stained ear discharge when the ear drum perforates. Later on there may be mucopurulent ear discharge. These perforations which are caused by acute middle ear infections generally heals by themselves. These may be chronic if they have been present for more than 3 months. The discharge may be mucoid or mucopurulent in chronic perforations and it may be purulent foul smelling scanty in chronic infections associated with bone resorption.
One should visit the ENT specialist if there is ear discharge.
At our clinic, after taking proper clinical history clinical examination is done. Ears are examined with otoscope and endoscope for detailed and proper assessment. Other relevant ENT examination is done and if required a swab may be taken and send for testing the microbial culture and its sensitivity to antibiotics. This helps in deciding about the appropriate antibiotic to be given.
An ear swab may be taken for culture sensitivity testing of the fluid to try to identify the bacteria involved, so that precise targeting of the bacteria with the appropriate antibiotic can be done.
A hearing test may be advised to identify the type and degree of hearing loss in chronic cases. CT Scan of the ear may be required, especially to rule out bony erosion or in cases of recurrent or resistant cases to see for infection in the mastoid bone and also to know about the bone erosion prior to surgery.