Otorrhea, or drainage from the ear, can occur after a ruptured ear drum from an acute ear infection, if the ear(s) become infected after tympanostomy tube (ear tube) placement, and from external ear infections.
In most cases, ear drainage is painless, short-lived and, if needed, treated effectively with topical antibiotic ear drops. Some with the condition may also be prescribed an antibiotic to take by mouth.
In some cases, ringing in the ear, itching, decreased hearing and vertigo are associated with ear discharge.
Chronic ear drainage can be a sign of more serious conditions in some cases (i.e., cholesteatoma).
A child with ear discharge or related symptoms will receive a thorough examination from an ENT physician.
A CT scan, MRI, or other tests may also be necessary in rare cases to determine the best treatment options.