Ear bleeding is a symptom of many different health conditions, including infection and trauma. Treatment for bleeding ears depends on the underlying cause. If you’re bleeding from your ears following a blow to the head, call 911 or head to your nearest emergency room.
Ear bleeding is any sign of blood in your ear, or coming from your ear. It’s a symptom of many injuries and conditions.
Most of the time, healthcare providers can treat ear infections and other medical conditions that cause ear bleeding. Bleeding from your ears typically won’t lead to complications, but the underlying causes for the bleeding can lead to long-term issues.
If you’ve recently hit your head and your ears are bleeding, you should call 911 or go to the emergency room right away. Ear bleeding after a head injury can indicate a potentially fatal condition.
Depending on the cause of ear bleeding, you may also have other symptoms, such as:
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You can develop bleeding ears due to:
Treatment for a bleeding ear depends on the underlying cause. Your healthcare provider may recommend:
If you get ear infections often, your provider may recommend ear tubes. During this procedure, a surgeon will place tiny, hollow tubes into your eardrum. These tubes allow air into your middle ear so that any fluid trapped behind your eardrum can drain out.
Sometimes recurrent (repeat) ear infections can cause your eardrum to rupture (tear). Ruptured eardrum symptoms include hearing loss and ear bleeding.
In many cases, a ruptured eardrum heals on its own. But if it doesn’t, you may need tympanoplasty. During this procedure, a surgeon repairs any holes or tears in your eardrum.
Ear bleeding can also result from having a strange object stuck in your ear. If this happens, your healthcare provider will need to remove it right away. Most of the time, providers can remove these objects during an office visit. But in severe cases, you may need a referral to an otolaryngologist (ENT).
Specific complications depend on the condition that’s causing ear bleeding. Notable risks of untreated ear bleeding include:
If you have bleeding ears following trauma — such as a car accident or sports injury — call 911 or head to your nearest emergency room.
It’s not always possible to prevent bleeding from your ears because it often occurs following unforeseen events (like a car accident).
However, there are ways to reduce your risk of health conditions related to ear bleeding.
To reduce your risk of ear infections:
To reduce your risk of a ruptured eardrum:
A healthcare provider can recommend appropriate treatment for bleeding ears. But there are things you can do at home to ease your discomfort during recovery:
If your ear is bleeding, you should see your healthcare provider for an exam. It’s important to find the cause of the bleeding so your provider can treat you properly.
If your ears bleed after an accident or blow to the head, you may have a life-threatening injury. Call 911 or go to the emergency room right away if you also have:
If you stick a cotton swab too far into your ear canal, it can puncture your eardrum, causing bleeding and hearing loss. There’s really no need to insert anything into your ear canals because your ears are self-cleaning.
To keep your ears healthy, simply wash your outer ear with a washcloth. Ask your healthcare provider about additional ear care tips.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Ear bleeding can occur as a result of infections, trauma and — in rare cases — ear cancer. In most instances, healthcare providers can treat common conditions that cause ear bleeding like infections or a ruptured eardrum. Bleeding from your ears is more serious if you’ve recently sustained a head injury. No matter what the reason, you should see your healthcare provider right away if you have bleeding ears. They can determine what caused the issue and recommend appropriate treatment.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/20/2023.
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