ZocdocAnswersI am feeling a weird/bad smell from ears, what could it be?

Question

I am feeling a weird/bad smell from ears, what could it be?

Okay so a few weeks ago i notices that my ears were staring to put off an offensive odor (cheese or manure type of smell). As gross as this sounds I have tried different solutions to try to eliminate the smell. I would clean them everynight in the shower, and the smell would seem to disappear but by morning time them smelt again. I tried to use rubbing alcohol on them in morning or night and it still left a bad odor. I understand that it could be an infection but there is no pain, discharge, or lose of hearing at all. I would like to try other suggestions before going to an ENT but for now...I am stuck. Please help me.

Answer

I am sorry to that you have been dealing with a foul smell from your ears for what sounds like some time, and that you are worried about what might be going on. You are correct in saying that it could potentially be an infection that is causing the foul smell, but there are definitely other possibilities as to what it might be. It seems that you are averse to going to get evaluated by an ENT (Ear Nose Throat) physician, but unfortunately that is exactly what I am going to recommend that you do. My first thought after the short description that you have given me about what is going on, is that you may have cerumen impactions that are not clearing. Often times when people use Q-tips to clean out their ears, they chronically push a small amount of wax (cerumen) medially within their ear canal towards the ear drum and this part of the ear canal is not designed to either produce ear wax, or get rid of it. This means that it continues to build up and can eventually cause problems (like a foul odor, or even impactions that cause infection or conductive hearing loss). The ENT will be able to examine your ears and see if this is in fact what is going on. After they examine you, they should be able to give you a better idea of what it might be, even if it isn't cerumen that is causing the smell.

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