Blood in the ear

Blood in the ear

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Bleeding ears

Blood in the ear doesn't necessarily mean something bad. A minor injury from scratching or cleaning the ears too hard can be the reason for this. Nevertheless, diseases should be excluded. In the following lines you will learn which causes can lead to blood in the ear and what you should pay attention to.


Blood in the ear need not necessarily indicate a serious illness. The most common cause is improper, harsh cleaning, or using pointed objects to address itching. In the worst case, however, this can lead to an injury to the eardrum, which is anything but harmless and requires an immediate visit to the doctor. The ears should always be cleaned carefully and gently. With the ear stick only the outer ear canal and never the inside of the ear is cleaned.

Severe injury
However, other causes can lead to blood in the ear. If pain is associated with this, a doctor must be consulted in any case. An accident in which the head was injured and blood comes out of the ear in this context is an emergency that must be immediately taken to a clinic. A cerebral hemorrhage or a possible skull base fracture could be the cause here.

Explosive trauma
In the event of an explosion trauma, the ear is severely damaged. This can happen, for example, during blasting operations or bomb explosions. The explosion trauma is one of the acoustic traumas. A sudden, massive sound pressure wave with more than 150 decibels, caused by blasting, bomb explosions or the bursting of an airbag leads to the injury. The ear is exposed to extreme noise for around three milliseconds. Mostly both ears are affected. Both inner and middle ears are damaged by the noise pollution. The eardrum often tears due to the pressure.

Those affected suffer from blood in the ear (due to the torn eardrum), hearing loss on both sides, feeling of pressure in the ears and stinging pain. These symptoms may be accompanied by tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and dizziness. Explosive trauma should be treated as soon as possible. This includes treatment in a special pressure chamber and a possible surgical procedure to close the eardrum. The patients are given blood-flow-enhancing infusions and cortisone treatment. In the worst case, the hearing loss persists.

Inflammation of the middle ear (otitis media)
A middle ear infection usually arises as a result of a nasopharyngeal infection, caused by bacteria. Infants and young children are often affected. Pathogens migrate into the ear via the ear trumpet, the mucous membrane swells, becomes red and thick, an effusion forms and the eardrum bulges outwards. This can cause the pressure to tear, which leads to blood in the ear. The sufferers suffer from massive pain, which usually stops abruptly when the eardrum has ruptured. In the case of otitis media, a doctor must be consulted. As a rule, patients are given an antibiotic. The eardrum often closes by itself.

Traumatic eardrum perforation
An injury to the eardrum, a traumatic eardrum perforation, can be caused by violence. Possible causes for this are a violent blow to the ear, a jump in the head or a water jet that is too hard when improperly performed ear irrigation. Those affected suffer from acute, stabbing pain, blood in the ear and a sudden hearing loss. Smaller injuries heal on their own, larger ones may need surgery.

Otitis externa (inflammation of the ear canal)
Inflammation of the ear canal is quite a painful affair. Initially, this begins with itching in the ear canal. After that, severe pain sometimes occurs - chewing hurts and even the slightest pressure on the ear is painful.

Cleaning too often damages the mucous membrane in the ear. Defense is reduced there. Germs such as viruses, fungi or bacteria can penetrate and trigger otitis externa. Frequent swimming favors such inflammation. A possible allergic reaction is also possible as a cause. Symptoms, as mentioned earlier, are itching and pain accompanied by otorrhea. The escaping secretion can be watery, purulent but also bloody.

The ear is connected to the nasopharynx through the Eustachian tube. This opens when yawning and swallowing and creates pressure equalization, which is very important, for example, when flying or diving. If there is a cold, there is swelling in the area of ​​the Eustachian tube and the pressure equalization is disturbed. The high pressure can tear the eardrum. Symptoms of barotrauma are severe pain, dizziness, possibly nausea and blood in the ear. This condition needs to be treated as soon as possible. To prevent barotrauma, decongestant nasal drops are administered if the runny nose is present and before the flight.

Ear fever
An ear furuncle is a hair follicle infection in the ear canal. This is usually associated with pain. If the abscess formed bursts, be it through medication or just like that, blood also appears in the ear in addition to pus.

Tumor in the ear
Malignant tumors in the ear are very rare. They can be caused by chronic inflammation. It mostly affects older people. Patients suffer from a feeling of pressure in the ear, hearing loss and blood in the ear.

Examination methods

Various examination methods are used to find out the causes of blood in the ears and the associated complaints. In the first place is a detailed medical history. This means that the doctor asks the patient about the type of pain, timing, type of secretion, etc. Then the ear is palpated and examined. The otoscope is used for this. This allows the outer ear canal to be viewed down to the eardrum. Other examination methods include computer tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), hearing tests and X-rays.


Blood in the ear, without pain and other complaints is usually harmless. In most cases, this is caused by a rough approach to cleaning. If symptoms such as pain, feeling of pressure, fever, dizziness or hearing loss are added, you should not "doctrine" yourself, but should see a doctor promptly. For example, a middle ear infection that is not treated in time can lead to inflammation of the inner ear, meningitis or mastoiditis (inflammation of the mastoid process). This can be prevented by timely treatment. (sw)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Arne Ernst; Michael Herzog; Ralf Ottis Seidl: Traumatology of the head and neck area: 50 tables, Theime, 2004
  • G. Alexander et al .: Diseases of the Hearing Organ: Part Two Diseases of the Outer, Middle and Inner Ear · Otosclerosis · Tuberculosis · Syphilis · Tumors ... including the border areas), Springer, 1926
  • Jennifer Wipperman: "Otitis Externa", in: Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice, Volume 41 Issue 1, 2014,

Video: Anatomy - Ear Overview (August 2022).