Otorrhagia (ear bleeding): causes and action to take

Otorrhagia (ear bleeding): causes and action to take

After trauma or injury to the ear canal, some people notice bleeding from the ear. Dr Didier Bouccara, ENT, tells us more about otorrhagia.

Definition: what is an otorrhagia?

Otorrhagia refers to the externalization of blood through the external auditory canal.

Causes: spontaneous otorrhagia, otitis, head trauma

“This bleeding of the ear can have several causes. It may be the result of a wound of the ear canal caused, for example, a cotton swab or other instrument used for cleaning, the rid of earwax. The Otorrhagia can also be linked to a trauma such as a fracture of the rock (the bone that contains the structures of the ear: eardrum, ossicles, inner ear. The bleeding linked to the fracture will perforate the eardrum and externalize. Finally, a discharge of blood may indicate the presence of a viral otitis”, details Dr Didier Bouccara, ENT, George-Pompidou European Hospital. The blood discharge may also be a sign of a ruptured eardrum following a sudden change in pressure as during a scuba diving session.

Read Also: What is brachioradial pruritus?


Depending on the cause, the flow of blood may be more or less . In some cases, the blood may be mixed with fluid or clots. Similarly, it can be coupled with other symptoms: pain in the ear, tinnitus , a hearing impairment, nasopharyngitis with clogged nose and throat, dizziness.

Who and when to consult?

It is recommended to see an ENT doctor if blood is leaking from the ear. Child or adult, anyone can bleed from the ear.


During the consultation, the ENT doctor cleans the ear. ” The ENT aspirates blood, cleans the ear properly and examines it in order to make a diagnosis, ” explains Dr Bouccara. In the event of low abundance otorrhagia, otoscopic examination is sufficient. But when the bleeding is more profuse and related to trauma, the ENT may recommend a CT scan, hearing tests or a bacteriological sample in case of otitis . 

Treatments and what to do in case of otorrhagia

“In case of otorrhagia, it is mainly recommended not to touch his ear, not to manipulate it to try to see inside and not to put any drop in his ear. It is necessary to consult urgently”, recommends Dr. Bouccara. In addition, it is better not to put a cotton swab in the ear, not to put your head under water, not to dab the inside of your ear with a cotton ball. Treatment for otorrhagia then depends on the cause.Usually, if the bleeding is related to a benign lesion, the wound heals on its own. Watch for possible infections. In this case, the ENT may prescribe antibiotics by local or oral route. Often linked to trauma, it is complicated to prevent the occurrence of otorrhagia. However, it is recommended that you do not over-clean your ear too aggressively and that you do not push the swab in too far when using it.

More to read: What is postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) ?

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