What can cause bleeding from the ears?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
There can be many causes of bleeding. Bleeding can occur from injuries to the external canal such as a scratch, Q-tip injury or insect bite. Infections can cause bleeding when an infected cyst drains or the eardrum ruptures from a middle ear infection.

An ear that is chronically infected will sometimes develop persistently inflamed tissue (called granulation tissue). This abnormal tissue commonly bleeds.

Children with repeat ear infections often have drainage tubes placed in their ears. An infection around the tube will often cause granulation tissue that bleeds.

Tumors of the ear are uncommon, but can have bleeding.

Bleeding is a warning sign that something is wrong. A trip to the doctor is a good idea to diagnose and treat the problem.
A ruptured eardrum, foreign objects in the ear, and infections can cause bleeding of the ear. Other than visually identifying blood coming from the ear, another way to identify a bleeding ear is by looking at your pillow. If the ear is bleeding, bloodstains will be easily noticeable.

(This answer provided for NATA by the Georgia College & State University Athletic Training Education Program.)
David R. Salley, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
The most common reason for bleeding from the ear is inserting swabs in the ear canal. In this video, Dave Salley, MD, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals, describes what else might cause bleeding.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.