Symptoms A-Z

Pus Leaking From The Ear Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand your pus leaking from the ear symptoms, including 6 causes and common questions.

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Contents

  1. 6 Possible Pus Leaking From The Ear Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics

6 Possible Pus Leaking From The Ear Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced pus leaking from the ear. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Swimmer's ear (otitis externa)

Swimmer's ear, or otitis externa, is an infection of the canal which runs from the eardrum to the opening of the ear.

It is caused by anything that introduces bacteria, fungus, or a virus into the canal. Water that stays inside the ear after swimming is a common cause, as are cotton swabs used for cleaning or earpieces that create irritation.

Most susceptible are children, because they have narrower ear canals that do not drain well.

Early symptoms include redness, itching, and discomfort inside the ear canal, sometimes with drainage of clear fluid.

Even mild symptoms should be treated because they can quickly get worse. The infection can spread and intensify, becoming very painful with increased drainage, swelling, fever, and loss of hearing.

Diagnosis is made through patient history and physical examination of the ear canal. Lab tests may be done on a sample of the discharge from the ear.

Treatment includes having a medical provider clean the ear canal of debris and discharge, and a prescription for antibiotic and/or steroid eardrops.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fever, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, jaw pain, ear pain that gets worse when moving

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Chronic ear infection (suppurative otitis media)

Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media is persistent drainage from the middle ear due to a damaged membrane. It is considered chronic when it lasts for more than 6 weeks.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: ear canal pain, pus leaking from the ear, hearing loss in one ear

Symptoms that always occur with chronic ear infection (suppurative otitis media): pus leaking from the ear

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Earwax blockage

Ear wax production is a normal process, as the body makes wax to protect the ear from infection. Sometimes ear wax can build up and cover the eardrum, which is a thin layer of skin that stretches across the end of the ear canal and picks up sound from outside. Ear wax buildup has nothing to do with poor hygiene, and it is not possible to prevent a build-up by washing.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: dizziness, dry cough, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, ringing in the ears

Symptoms that never occur with earwax blockage: swollen ear, fever

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

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Foreign body in external ear

An ear foreign body is anything that gets stuck in the ear canal other than earwax. This may include food, toy pieces, beads, buttons, disk batteries, cotton swab, paper, or insects. Foreign bodies are usually trapped in the outer ear canal.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: ear fullness/pressure, ear discharge, pain in one ear canal, bleeding from the ear, pus leaking from the ear

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Cholesteatoma (a non-cancerous growth in the ear)

Cholesteatoma is a type of skin cyst that is located in the middle ear and mastoid bone in the skull. It can be a birth defect though more commonly occurs as a complication of chronic ear infection.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: ear fullness/pressure, ringing in the ears, pain in one ear canal, vertigo (extreme dizziness), hearing loss in one ear

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Malignant otitis externa

Malignant otitis externa is a disorder that involves infection and damage of the bones of the ear canal and at the base of the skull.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: constant ear redness, pain in one ear canal, ear redness on one side

Symptoms that always occur with malignant otitis externa: ear redness on one side, constant ear redness

Urgency: In-person visit

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Pus Leaking From The Ear

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Do you use cotton-tipped swabs (q-tips) to clean your ears?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with diabetes?
  • Do you often come into contact with hot tubs, swimming pools, or other sources of standing water?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out why you're having pus leaking from the ear

Pus Leaking From The Ear Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced pus leaking from the ear have also experienced:

  • 14% Ear Canal Pain
  • 14% Pain In One Ear Canal
  • 6% Ear Fullness/Pressure

People who have experienced pus leaking from the ear were most often matched with:

  • 44% Swimmer'S Ear (Otitis Externa)
  • 33% Chronic Ear Infection (Suppurative Otitis Media)
  • 22% Earwax Blockage

People who have experienced pus leaking from the ear had symptoms persist for:

  • 34% Less than a day
  • 29% Less than a week
  • 21% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Pus Leaking From The Ear Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you're having pus leaking from the ear