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How can I tell if my eardrum is ruptured versus just being clogged with wax? Blood on Q-tip

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how can i tell if my eardrum is ruptured, versus just being clogged with wax? is trace amounts of blood on a qtip a bad sign? i didnt qtip very hard and only a little came out, but i have been trying to clean out the wax with hydrogen peroxide. thanks for your time
Posted Sun, 22 Jul 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 1 hour later

Thanks for the query

If the eardrum is ruptured you will have acute pain following which there will be watery discharge, unpleasant noise, dizziness and blood oozing from the ear. With clogged wax, there will be blood on the tip of the cotton bud due to the trauma to the skin on the ear canal.

Q: Is trace amounts of blood on a qtip a bad sign?
A: No, it is not a bad sign, it indicates trauma to the canal.

Q: I have been trying to clean out the wax with hydrogen peroxide.
A: Please do not use hydrogen peroxide to remove the earwax, it will cause excoriation of the canal skin and damage the canal. Instead, use wax solvents which helps in dissolving the wax.

Hope I have answered your query; I will be available for the follow-up queries.

Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 1 minute later

Thank you for your query.

1. Ear wax is only produced in the outer two-thirds of the external ear canal. Normally, the ear canal is self cleansing due to shedding of skin from the center of the eardrum outwards.

2. Frequent use of ear buds such as Q-Tips can push the earwax into the deeper end (near the eardrum) where the ear wax may build up. The skin lining the inside of the external ear canal is very delicate and easily bruised leading to a little bleeding. This is common.

3. The ear canal is narrower in the isthmus which is near the junction of the inner cartilaginous and inner bony part. If a wax plug is formed beyond the isthmus, it has to be dissolved with wax dissolving ear drops such as Soliwax or Waxolve. Use 3-4 drops 3-4 times a day for at least a week or two.

4. Sometimes with a couple of weeks of wax dissolving ear drops the wax may come out on it's own. Hydrogen peroxide or ear wax candles are no longer used. Use of edible ear oil is not advised as it is a good medium for bacterial growth. Mullein ear oil (Homeopathic) is also good for use later.

5. Usually the ear wax is syringed out or removed under the microscope by an ENT Specialist after a week or two of using the ear drops regularly.

6. If the ear wax plug is XXXXXXX in the bony ear canal, use of ear drops may cause it to expand slightly causing discomfort and sometimes pain. A mild painkiller may be required for a couple of days till the wax softens completely.

7. Only after removal of the ear wax, will the ear drum be visible. It is not very easy to rupture an eardrum easily as the ear canal is zig-zag in shape. Any eardrum perforation can only be determined on direct examination. Both ear drum perforations and ear wax can cause hearing loss.

8. At times, there may be infection behind a very tight ear wax plug. This normally settles soon after the ear wax is removed.

9. I must emphasize that there is no cause for worry. Get your ear examined as soon as possible.

I hope that I have answered your queries. If you have any further questions, I will be available to answer them.

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