A ruptured eardrum is a hole or rupture in the eardrum that arises from an infection, trauma, or as a complication of ear tubes. Known medically as a tympanic membrane perforation. A perforation can lead to a middle ear drainage and possible hearing loss. Most will heal eventually heal on their own without medical treatment. Some will need a surgical treatment called a tympanoplasty. All require monitoring until they resolve.
What Can Cause Ruptured Eardrums?
Ruptured eardrums are most often caused by infection, injury or Eustachian tube disorders. Middle ear infections cause a buildup of pressure that may result in a ruptured eardrum.
Injury or trauma to the ear or head can cause a perforation, as can a skull fracture or sudden loud noise, such as an explosion.
Inserting objects like bobby pins or Q-tips in the ear to clean wax can inadvertently cause a rupture as well. And chronic Eustachian tube problems can weaken the eardrum, making it more prone to perforation. All ENT’s have bad stories about Q-tips.
What Are the Symptoms of Ruptured Eardrum?
Some people are completely unaware of a ruptured eardrum; there may be a complete lack of symptoms or only a feeling of general discomfort. Other times, people will experience either a sudden sharp pain in the ear; a discharge of fluid that may be bloody, clear or pus-like; a buzzing or ringing in the ear; partial or complete hearing loss in the affected ear; ear infection; facial weakness or dizziness.
How Are Ruptured Eardrums Treated?
A doctor will examine your ears with an otoscope to visually identify a hole or tear in the eardrum. Because the majority of perforated eardrums heal on their own in a few months, no treatment may be needed other than antibiotics to prevent or treat infection. While a tympanic membrane perforation is healing you’ll need to keep the ear dry, avoiding water going down the ear canal. If a hole in the eardrum does not seem to be closing, Dr. Sipp may recommend an operation called a tympanoplasty.
Call Dr. Sipp at (404) 591-1426 for more information or to schedule an appointment.