Have you ever found blood in your ear while trying to clean the ear wax? Well, this phenomenon can be worrying for most people. But rest assured. Bleeding on the ear is more common than you think, and it is usually not an immediate concern. In fact, sometimes the bleeding does not mean that there is something wrong with the ear. But, when other symptoms occur together with the bleeding, then it may signal a serious condition. In some cases, it can even be life threatening. The symptoms that often occur together with severe ear bleeding may include dizziness, pain, or temporary hearing loss. If those symptoms occur, seek professional help to get medical care.
Bleeding in the ear
First, we must understand the anatomy of the ear. The ear is divided into three sections: the inner ear, the outer ear, and the middle ear. The inner ear includes the nerve ending that serves as sound waves detector, the outer ear includes the ear canal and external ear, the middle ear includes three tiny bones (ossicles) and external ear.
How the process of hearing occurs? First, the sound waves go to the middle ear through the outer ear. In the middle ear, the sound waves vibrate the ossicles and the eardrum. Then those vibrations are transmitted and changed into nerve signals through the inner ear to the brain. And then the brain perceive those nerve signals as sound.
Ear discharge has a term in a medical field called otorrhea. Otorrhea can be in various forms, either a clear fluid, a waxy discharge, or even blood. When bleeding occurs, it is a sign of a ruptured blood vessel. For the ear, the cause of bleeding can vary.
The cause of bleeding
Perforated or ruptured blood vessel in the eardrum is the most common cause of ear bleeding. The hole or tear may occur in the delicate eardrum (tympanic membrane), usually accompanied with hearing loss, temporary or permanent. It can occur due to loud sounds, sudden change of air pressure, infection, and a foreign object piercing the eardrum. The ruptured eardrum can heal on its own in several weeks, but you should always take precautions to avoid ruptured eardrum.
Although it is a rare occurrence, a skull fracture can cause the bleeding from the ears. The blood will only present if the blood vessel is also ruptured and mixed with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
An Otic polyp is a developed skin on the external eardrum. This phenomenon occurs due to repeated irritation on a certain area caused by chronic infection. But rest assured, if not injured by a foreign object, the bleeding from the polyp is not normally occurred.
This refers to any object that should not normally present in the area. The ear often contacts with a foreign object like a cotton swab, pencil or pen, matchstick and etc. You must take a special care if you use those foreign objects in your ear. Remember to not let those objects rupture the eardrum. Please pay special attention to your children, as they can also place other foreign objects like beads, food, or even a small toy in their ears.
Seek medical attention immediately of one or more of these symptoms occurred together along with persistent bleeding on your ear.
- Loss of hearing
- Lack of balance
- Ear pain or otalgia
- Ear ringing (tinnitus)
- Mental symptoms such as drowsiness or confusion
- The bleeding occurred under the skin around the eyes (raccoon eyes)
- Discharge smelled bad
Other than those symptoms, bleeding in the ear caused by an assault, car accident, fall or any type of injury on the head also needs to be treated immediately. Do not use a cotton ball or any other foreign objects to block the ear when the bleeding occur, unless it is done by a medical professional. Please also be advised to not use the water or any other fluid to rinse out the ear as it may only worsen the condition.