Discharge of pus from the ear as a result of perforation of the eardrum in otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear). Under normal circumstances inflammation of the middle ear clears up after spontaneous or induced perforation of the eardrum or after treatment with antibiotics; the discharge of pus and blood from the ear stops and the eardrum closes again. Sometimes inflammation persists, the eardrum remains open, and the discharge continues. The inflammation has then usually become chronic. The cause can be undetected mastoiditis or a source of infection in the nose or throat such as an enlarged and inflamed adenoid, sinusitis or bronchitis. Chronic otitis media is sometimes also associated with cholesteatoma. In otorrhoea a foul-smelling discharge exudes from the ear, hearing is impaired, and there can be ringing in the ears. Earache does not occur. Possible complications include loss of the auditory ossicle housing as a result of the inflammation, paralysis of the facial nerve, labyrinthitis (inflammation of the inner ear) and meningitis. Treatment is by removal of the underlying cause. The middle ear is cleaned and antibiotic drops administered where necessary. When the ear is dry it is possible to close the perforation in the eardrum by surgery. Any complications are also treated.

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