Bleeding from the ear is tough to ignore. It is important to know the location of the cause then it’ll be easier to know the cause of bleeding. It can come from many problems like a ruptured eardrum or an infection or damage.
If you are reading this article then there are higher chances that at least once in your life you might have experienced blood flowing from your ears. Such a thing must have made you ask what causes ear bleeding. What can be the possible explanation for it?
1. Understanding why Ears Bleed
Blood coming out of your ear is an apparent reason for any injury that has occurred. Maybe you scratched off the skin’s inner ear while cleaning it or it can be an ear infection. The reason can go as far as ear cancer.
So it’s better to look into the symptoms of your problem and treat or deal with it accordingly. Here are some reasons and their symptoms.
1.1 Change in Water or Air Pressure
Let us start with more common and less serious ones so when you are traveling by airplane or doing scuba diving. There are chances for your ears to bleed amidst it. Robert Boyle, an Anglo-Irish philosopher and chemist gave an appropriate explanation for it through his Boyle’s law.
According to him, gases like air take up less space when outside pressure increases. But when outside pressure decreases, the gas takes more space. When your body is not able to adjust to the change in water or air pressure, that leads to Barotrauma.
When Barotrauma happens you feel several symptoms in addition to having a bleeding ear. You may feel excruciating pain in your ears, a sense of earplugs being stuffed in them or they might start ringing like spider-sense, and chances of feeling nauseous.
1.2 Hearing Loud Noises
There are chances for the capillaries located inside your ears to burst. It can happen when you are in a concert near the speakers. Though it is a rare occurrence, it is not the direct sound exposure that causes the capillaries to burst, but the pressure.
To avoid any confusion let’s understand what capillaries are. They are delicate blood vessels that are present not just in our ears, but throughout the body. Its job is to transport blood, oxygen, and nutrients in our organs.
1.3 Foreign Object Inside Our Ear
This is more common to be seen among small children. As they are the ones who tend to push small toys inside their nose or ears. When they do, it might start to cause discomfort and even serious life-threatening issues. This can even lead to a rupture in the eardrums.
In adults, it might be an insect that would have flown inside. If it’s an object, then it can be sucked out through a suction machine. But if it’s an insect, which won’t come out and is still alive inside. Then an appropriate treatment for it would be to try pouring a small amount of vegetable or baby oil. By doing this, the insect would die, and it becomes easier to remove it.
1.4 Head Injury
If your ear bleeds, you should immediately call the ambulance or visit a doctor for a better assessment of your condition. There are some symptoms from which you can understand if you are suffering from a head injury or not.
You would start to lose consciousness, at first for a few seconds then for a few minutes. This would make you dizzy or disoriented and make you vomit. You might find it hard to sleep or you might sleep more than you do usually.
1.5 Ear Cancer
Two types of cancers affect our ears, namely Melanomas and Carcinomas. You can tell them apart easily, as Melanomas start as a mole and spread to organs beyond our skin. While Carcinomas appear as red bums or patches. Ear cancer can be cured if it is diagnosed at the right time i.e. in its initial stages.
The cancer can either occur in the outer ear or the inner and middle ear. In outer ear cancer, it is found that sores that stay on the skin for more than 4 weeks tend to change into ulcers or start to bleed.
Whereas in inner and middle ear cancer, you may experience the inability to move your face i.e. face paralysis. You might feel an ache inside your ears. To top it up, there are chances for severe headaches too.
2. What Are the Possible Complications of Not Treating Ear Bleeding?
If it’s a ruptured eardrum then it would heal on its own without any treatment. So would Barotrauma, only it would take a little longer than expected. But in terms of cancer cells, things are different as they won’t heal on their own.
If Melanoma is not treated at the right time, then after 6 weeks it can become a life-threatening disease. As it would spread to other parts of the body, taking the form of cancer. Similarly, if carcinoma cells are not treated, then they will grow larger and deeper in size. Although it is not common, it can become fatal by spreading to other organs of the body.
3. Bonus Tips
Don’t use cotton swabs or Q-tips to clean your ear. That’s because half of what it pulls out is being pushed in more. Thus blocking your eardrum, causing pain as well as infection.
Instead, you can try softening the ear wax by applying a few drops of oil or mineral oil. Then tilt your head to the opening, so that all the wax flows out of it without any digging. When you are finished, dry your ear with a towel.
Many of the conditions are curable without seeing a doctor, while some issues are so serious that need to be diagnosed in their early stages for better treatment.
While talking of the causes, we came across terms like Barotrauma, Melanomas, and Carcinomas. We also came to know of the theory of Robert Boyle, known as Boyle’s law which talks about how pressure on the outside can affect the gases inside. Then we tried bursting the myth about loud noises causing our eardrums to tear and what happens when we insert foreign objects into our ears.
5.1. How do I know if my eardrum is ruptured?
If you have a ruptured eardrum, you will face loss of hearing, bleeding ears. Additionally, your ears would be ringing, and there is a possibility of experiencing vertigo i.e. spinning head.
But don’t worry, a ruptured eardrum would heal on its own within a few weeks.
5.2. When should I consult a doctor?
In most cases, blood coming out of the ear is due to the eardrum being ruptured. But in some rare cases, it can be more serious than we know. So if the pain, ringing sounds, headaches, and vomiting stays for more than an unusual period. Then it is highly advised that you should consult a medical professional.
There are certain causes like Ear Cancer, which can be cured successfully if they are diagnosed at the early stage.
5.3. Can listening to loud music cause my ears to bleed?
We have often seen these scenes in movies where listening to loud music makes the character’s ears bleed. But in reality, direct sound often doesn’t cause the capillaries in your ear to burst open. They burst open because they don’t get enough time to adapt to the vibration and the fluid starts to build up in the ear.
Thus it is the pressure that causes the capillaries to burst and the ears to bleed.
4. How can I prevent my ear from bleeding?
The treatment for ear bleeding mainly depends on the cause of it. But for immediate relief, you can apply pressure to the ear with a warm washcloth. By doing this you can stop the bleeding to a certain extent and even stop it.
Now based on the causes. If it is due to a head injury, then applying pressure to the ear is a good solution until you seek or reach the hospital. If it is due to a foreign object being stuck in your ear then you need to consult a healthcare professional to remove it from your ear. If you leave the foreign object there untreated, then there are chances for it to cause infection.