Ear discharge indicates an infection in the ear. This could be due to an infection of the External Ear or the Middle Ear.
An infection of the external ear can be very painful as the skin in the ear canal is tightly adherent to the bony canal leaving little space for swelling to occur. This is seen more frequently in diabetics and other patients suffering from some immunodeficiency. An infection of the middle ear can cause fluid discharge from the ear once there is a perforation of the ear drum. Such perforations can be temporary and heal quickly if they are of recent onset in Acute infections. They can also be chronic if they have been present for many months or longer. Perforations of the ear drum should be repaired with surgery, as their presence can cause some serious complications if left untreated.
What tests are needed for ear discharge?
An examination of the ear under a microscope is the first investigation which reveals the diagnosis. At the clinic, we have a Carl Zeiss microscope (Switzerland) with a Karl Storz (Germany) camera attachment for assisting in proper diagnosis.
An ear swab may be taken for culture sensitivity testing of the fluid to try to identify the bacteria involved, so that precise targeting of the bacteria with the appropriate antibiotic can be done.
An audiometry test may be prescribed to identify the type and quantum of hearing loss.
An X ray or CT Scan of the ear may be required, especially to rule out bony erosion or prior to surgery.
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