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How to Clear Drainage From Ears

author image Erin Monahan
Erin Monahan is an author and editor with over 25 years experience. She has written on a variety of topics including celebrity interviews, health reporting and parenting. Her work has appeared in daily newspapers and national magazines, including "Wondertime," and on websites such as She was recently named one of the top writers in Pennsylvania. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Simmons College.
How to Clear Drainage From Ears
Never use a pointed object to clear drainage from your ear. Photo Credit: triocean/iStock/Getty Images

Drainage from the ear -- medically known as otorrhea -- is usually caused by an infection. Take care to clear the drainage and clean the ear using the appropriate method, as improper cleaning can cause additional damage. Some of the causes of drainage are swimmer's ear, a middle ear infection, allergies, and head or ear trauma, reports You may be able to clear some of the drainage by irrigating the ear canal.

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Step 1

Take note of the type of discharge you are having. If it is brown or yellow and smells foul, it is likely a bacterial infection that may need antibiotics to cure. Antibiotics may clear the discharge completely within a week, without any ear canal irrigation.

Step 2

Fill a bulb syringe with room-temperature water or saline solution. Use bottled water or a sterile saline solution, if possible, because it is more pure, but regular tap water works, too.

Step 3

Stand over the sink with the affected ear tilted away from the sink. Place the tip of the syringe 1/4 inch outside the ear canal and gently squeeze the bulb, injecting the water into the ear. Let the water sit for a few seconds and then turn your head over the sink. The water should drain out immediately, bringing with it any debris in the ear canal. Repeat several times until the drainage is all cleared.

Step 4

Gently dry the outer ear with a cotton swab, making sure to avoid the ear canal.

Step 5

Irrigating the ear canal after swimming if drainage from swimmer's ear recurs frequently. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol for this regular treatment.

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