Introduction

Ear drainage can represent a difficult problem for health-care professionals and the patients they treat. Drainage from the ear can be associated with a foul odor and can soil clothing, causing embarrassment to patients in social situations. In addition, individuals who wear hearing aids are often forced to keep the aids out of the ear during the period of drainage, which may further increase social isolation. In this chapter, we will begin by considering the infectious cause of otitis externa and otitis media as they relate to ear drainage; next, we will discuss allergic and inflammatory disorders; finally, we will examine systemic disorders that can produce otorrhea. After discussion of each disorder, we will examine therapeutic options.

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