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Types of otorrhea
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Types of otorrhea

Exploring different types of otorrhea
types of otorrhoea
Representational image | Canva

Otorrhea, a medical term referring to abnormal ear discharge, is commonly known as runny ears. It commonly signals an underlying problem, often an ear infection, occurring as both external ear infections (otitis externa) and middle ear infections (otitis media). The presence of ear discharge is a clear indication that the ear’s usual function is being disrupted. There are different types of otorrhea, and it is essential to understand the complexity of this condition. Otorrhea can manifest in diverse ways, and there might be additional types with specific characteristics or underlying conditions.

Happiest Health lists out different types of otorrhea.

Types of otorrhea

1. Purulent otorrhea

Description: Purulent otorrhea involves the discharge of pus, which is typically yellow or greenish in colour.

Causes: Bacterial infections of the ear, such as bacterial otitis media or external ear infections, commonly associate with it.

2. Serous otorrhea

Description: Serous otorrhea refers to the discharge of a clear, watery fluid that contains serum, a protein-rich liquid found in blood.

Causes: Conditions like allergic rhinitis, eustachian tube dysfunction, or fluid accumulation in the middle ear can lead to serous otorrhea.

3. Bloody otorrhea

Description: Bloody otorrhea involves the presence of blood in the ear discharge.

Causes: Trauma to the ear, a ruptured eardrum, or certain medical conditions may lead to bloody otorrhea. Identifying and addressing the underlying cause is crucial.

4. Mucoid otorrhea

Description: Mucoid otorrhea is characterised by the presence of thick and viscous mucus-like discharge from the ear.

Causes: Chronic inflammation of the middle ear, often due to conditions like chronic otitis media, can lead to mucoid otorrhea.

5. Clear otorrhea

Description: Clear otorrhea involves the discharge of a thin and watery fluid that is transparent.

Causes: Conditions such as cerebrospinal fluid leakage, especially in cases of head trauma or skull fractures, can associate with it.

Reviewed by: Dr H K Susheen Dutt, senior consultant – ENT specialist, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru

Takeaway

It is important to know about different types of otorrhea. This can help us notice how complicated underlying issues, like infections or structural problems, can be. Early intervention not only addresses the immediate symptoms but also reduces the risk of complications. If you or someone you know is experiencing otorrhea, it is important to consult with an expert for a thorough examination and appropriate diagnosis.

Regular cleaning of the external ear with a soft washcloth to prevent insertion into the ear canal and promote natural wax migration are preventive methods to reduce the risk of otorrhea. It is recommended not to use Q-tips or cotton swabs because they may push wax deeper and result in clogs. Early detection of symptoms of an ear infection, such as pain, discharge, or changes in hearing, is critical to determine when medical intervention is necessary. To further prevent damage and lower the risk of infections, it is stressed to avoid inserting foreign items into the ears.

Moreover, consulting an expert is crucial for a customised approach to controlling otorrhea, as the complexity of ear health demands specific understanding.

Read more about: Causes of otorrhea

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