The board-certified, fellowship-trained pediatric infectious disease specialists with Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, provide evaluation and treatment of otorrhea, also called watery ears or runny ears, and its complications in children.
What Is Otorrhea?
Otorrhea, also called watery ears or runny ears, is drainage that cones out of the ear canal. This drainage, which may or may not have a foul smell, can be:
- Purulent: Contain pus
- Sanguineous: Contain blood
- Serous: Thin and watery
Otorrhea can be caused by:
- Tear in the eardrum (perforated eardrum)
- Outer ear infection, such as swimmer’s ear or a fungal (yeast) infection in the ear canal
- Head injury, which can cause cerebrospinal fluid (fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) to leak. This is a less common cause, but it is serious and can be life-threatening.
If your child’s ear begins draining and they don’t have ear tubes, they should be evaluated by a physician.
Symptoms can include:
- Ear pain
- Hearing loss
- Ringing in the ear
- Vertigo (feels like the room is spinning/dizzy)
Treatment for otorrhea depends on the underlying cause of the drainage. Treatment will be based on the child’s age, current health and medical history. Treatments may include:
- Antibiotic ear drops
- Oral antibiotics