How to treat ear discharge

Published 28 March 2019  | Updated 18 December 2022  | 3 mins read

An old man holding his ear and appearing to be in pain.

Our noses run, and sometimes our eyes can get a little weepy, but fluid coming from our ears isn’t something we expect on a daily basis (unless you’ve just stepped out of the shower – in which case be sure to follow these guidelines for drying your ears).

If you have pus or fluid discharge (otorrhea) from either ear, it could be caused by one of the following:

• Otitis media – an infection of the middle ear, or a related condition called chronic suppurative otitis media, a longer-term infection.
• Excessive earwax build-up.
• If you have grommets fitted to treat Otitis Media with Effusion (Glue ear).

How to treat ear discharge

The treatment required depends on the symptoms and diagnosis. If you suspect discharge from your ear you should always consult with either your GP or a Hearing Care Professional.

Ear infection

For ear infections (Acute Otitis Media), it usually goes away within three to five days. Often no treatment is required, but if it’s accompanied by pain or fever then standard painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen are recommended. Antibiotics are rarely needed unless the pain/discharge becomes more severe or persistent.

Excessive earwax

Earwax keeps your ears healthy, protecting them against germs and foreign bodies entering the ear canal. It normally leaves the ear naturally over time without you even noticing. But sometimes too much earwax can build up inside your ear, causing muffled hearing, earache, itchiness, tinnitus, and even affecting your balance.

With the right professional treatments, excess earwax is easy to remove. Techniques include water irrigation and microsuction. All quick, simple and painless.

Grommets (glue ear)

Finally, ear discharge can also be caused by a common treatment for Otitis Media with Effusion, also known as glue ear. Glue ear which is most common in children, usually clears up naturally over a period of weeks and months, but if it doesn’t, grommets can be fitted into the eardrum.

Grommets are fitted into the eardrum to help drain the fluid build-up in the middle ear which means that you might notice some fluid discharge leaking from the ear canal as a result – it’s a sign the grommets (tiny tubes) are doing their job. The grommets will fall out naturally after 6-12 months.

Contact us today

If you have any fluid discharge from your ears, contact The Hearing Care Partnership today. Call us on 0800 52 00 546, book an appointment online or find your local practice.