A to Z: Otorrhea

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A to Z: Otorrhea

Otorrhea is discharge from the external part of the ear canal.

More to Know

Ear drainage can be serous (thin and watery), sanguineous (containing blood), or purulent (full of pus). It may or may not smell foul.

Vertigo, ear pain, fever, itching, ringing in the ear, and hearing loss are all symptoms that can accompany otorrhea.

Many things can cause fluid to drain from the ear. Most commonly, it occurs with swimmer's ear or when an ear infection leads to a perforated eardrum (with or without middle ear infection). Head injury can cause leaking of cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord). Head injury is a less common cause of otorrhea, but it is more serious and can be life threatening.

Keep in Mind

Because ear discharge has many origins, it's important to see a doctor to identify the cause so that it can be properly treated.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.



Related Resources

OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.


Related Articles

Middle Ear Infections Ear infections are common among kids and, often, painful. Find out what causes them and how they're treated.
Eardrum Injuries A "popped" eardrum is more than just painful - it can sometimes lead to hearing loss. Learn about eardrum injuries and how to prevent them.
Swimmer's Ear (Otitis Externa) Swimmer's ear is an infection of the ear canal caused by many types of bacteria or fungi. Find out how to prevent it.
A to Z: Otitis Media (Ear Infection) Learn more about otitis media, an infection of the middle ear.
Ears Hearing may be the ears' main job, but it's not all they do. Learn all about the ears in this Body Basics article.
A to Z: Otalgia (Ear Pain) Learn about otalgia, more commonly known as ear pain or earache.
Ear Injuries Ear injuries not only can affect a child's hearing, but sense of balance, too. That's because our ears also help keep us steady on our feet.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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