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DrasticDreamer's avatar

What is wrong with my ear (blood in wax)?

Asked by DrasticDreamer (23988points) June 20th, 2009

Quite a while ago I had gone into the doctor’s when I was sick. The doctor was doing a routine check-up and noticed a build-up of wax in my ears, so she had her assistant clean my ears out. When the assistant did so, she broke my right eardrum because they noticed afterward that the right ear had somewhat of an infection.

I went to a specialist to assess the damage afterward and he said their was not one, but two tears in the eardrum. I was supposed to go back a month later, but couldn’t afford to because I lost my insurance.

Fast forward to now and every once in a while I get shooting/stabbing pain in that ear and ever since my initial doctor visit I haven’t been able to hear as well out of that ear. I never stick Q-tips too deep when I’m cleaning – especially on that side – because I don’t want to cause more damage. But when I was cleaning out that side after a shower, I noticed that there was blood mixed in with the wax.

I know it’s a possible infection, but could it be something worse? Do infections like that ever go away on their own? Because… I’m really broke. But I’ll go in if I absolutely should.

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18 Answers

loser's avatar

The walls inside the ears are VERY sensitive. It’s possible you abraded them with a Qtip. (I’ve done that!) You might want to get it checked again just to be sure and make sure that an infection hasn’t developed.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@loser I’m positive it’s not because of the Q-tip. I’m paranoid, so I’m always really, really gentle. The inside has been hurting pretty badly, before I noticed the blood. I guess another question I would have is: If it is bleeding because of an infection, would that mean it’s a really bad one? Being broke sucks.

loser's avatar

Well, if there is even the slightest bit of swelling around your ear or the nearby glands, then you probably do have an infection. If not, give it a day of two but don’t even think about putting anything anywhere near your ear. Headphones included!

SeventhSense's avatar

I would go to the emergency room. Even if you don’t have insurance, they have to accept you. And you can pay them back at whatever rate you’re comfortable with. Bleeding ears is not something you should take lightly.

loser's avatar

They have to take you? GO! GO! GO!

TaoSan's avatar

With @SeventhSense and @loser here, at least visit an ER. Sorry to hear :(

By the way, breaking an ear drum sounds a lot like pain and suffering damages to me, I’d sue their ass. For example, you wont be able to go diving anymore….

Good luck DD, hope it turns out okay.

jrpowell's avatar

Just a hint. The ER at the hospital on NW 23rd is super cheap. When the guys broke my face while I was on the porch it was only a 80$ bill for a trip there. It was the cheapest visit to the ER I have ever had. (but that was in 2002) I’m sure it is more now. But it is the cheapest ER in town.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@johnpowell. I’m sorry but I just had to ask this out of insatiable curiousity. Someone broke your face while you were on a porch?

jrpowell's avatar

@Bluefreedom :: I added it here. I didn’t want to disrupt a question that needs a good answer.

loser's avatar

@Bluefreedom Thank you for asking. I needed that!

Bluefreedom's avatar

@johnpowell. Makes perfect sense. Thanks for the link and the answer. =)

@loser. You’re welcome.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

The blood is probably old from the punctures and got mixed in over time. Since you’ve had punctures in the past, don’t put peroxide or alcohol in your ears to dry water or bubble loose little goobers, it’ll hurt.

casheroo's avatar

Question: If they were the ones that punctured your ear, why aren’t they the ones paying to have it fixed? Insurance or not? Or did you sign a waiver or something?

chyna's avatar

It may be too far in the past to have the original people that puntured it do anything, but please go to ER. They do have to accept payment plans as someone said above and can take as little as $5.00 a month. Your health and hearing is too precious.

hearkat's avatar

Hi; I’m an Audiologist.

Was it dried blood like an old scab? or fresh bright red blood?

How long ago was the injury? and has anyone since told you that the perfs had healed?

I think a trip to the ER is excessive, since you aren’t complaining of any pain, fever, or other change in symptoms. Non-emergency visits by the uninsured over-burden the system.

You do need to see an Otolaryngologist and have a comprehensive Audioligical evaluation. Most offices offer discounted fees for self-pay patients.

Another option is your local State Department of Labor’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. They help working people or those in school with non-covered medical expenses. We obtain hearing aids for patients through that program and they have paid for surgeries for those whose hearing could be improved by it.

Feel free to ask any more questions; and please be sure to mention if any other symptoms are associated with the blood today. And stop using cotton swabs! Use a towel and your finger to dry your ears.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@hearkat Thank you. It was definitely new blood and my ear is still painful sometimes. I’ll get random shooting/stabbing pain in that ear, but it feels really deep. The past few days it’s definitely been bothering me. And okay, no more cotton swabs.

hearkat's avatar

@DrasticDreamer: You really do need to have the ear examined. And it may not be too late to follow legal channels against those who damaged it in the first place. Many family doctors and general practitioners won’t clean ear wax because the ear is so delicate and the space is so small. You say that the Assistant performed the procedure… and that person may not even be legally qualified to remove cerumen. I am not allowed to do it by the laws in my state, while Audiologists elsewhere can and do perform the procedure regularly. Since there appears to be lasting damage to the ear with ongoing pain and hearing loss, you may want to consult an attorney. I am generally not litigious, but in this case it seems warranted. Personal Injury cases usually do not ask for any money unless/until a settlement is made. All your examinations and second-opinions should be paid for by the attorney.

In the meantime, try to find an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist to examine your ear. Call ahead and explain that you are self-pay with no insurance and ask what the charge is. Many Doctors take credit cards, too. Having the proper specialist checking you will help you feel at ease about what your current condition is relative to the bleeding and pain, and should help you get a better sense of whether you want to consult an attorney. Do not tell the ENT what office caused the damage, to avoid bias. Ask whether surgery or a hearing aid might be required -both are costly, and would be part of a settlement.

Again, it is rare that I suggest pursuing litigation, but hearing is crucial to our quality of life and hearing loss effects academic and job performance, as well as social interactions and relationships, not to mention personal safety. You are young and have many years of life ahead of you… this needs to be taken seriously.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@hearkat Okay, I’ll take your advice. It’s been a while since it happened though, but I’ll definitely see what can be done.

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