About Ear Drum Perforations

Perforations can be caused by hearing loss and make your eardrum more exposed to injury or infection.  They usually heal after a couple of weeks if you seek treatment.  Occasionally, however, they require surgery to repair.

A ruptured eardrum is a tear or hole in the thin tissue that separates your ear canal from your middle ear.

What Are Symptoms Of A Perforated Eardrum?

  • ear pain that may be subtle
  • clear, pus-filled or bloody drainage from your ear
  • hearing loss
  • ringing in your ear
  • spinning sensation
  • nausea or vomiting that can result from vertigo.

What Are The Causes Of A Perforated Eardrum?

Middle ear infection (otitis media): An infection in the middle ear that can result in a buildup of fluid in your middle ear.  Pressure from these fluids can lead to the eardrum’s rupture.

Barotrauma:  Stress that is putting pressure on your eardrum when the air pressure in the environment, as well as the air pressure in your middle ear, are out of balance.  Your eardrum can rupture if the pressure is intense enough.  Barotrauma is normally caused by changes in air pressure with air travel.  Some other events that can cause sudden pressure changes and cause your eardrum to potentially rupture are: direct air blown into the ear, such as air bag impact, and scuba diving,

Loud sounds or blasts (acoustic trauma): Loud sounds from things like guns can cause your eardrum to tear due to its overpowering sound wave.

Foreign objects in your ear: Small objects that are stuck in your ear, such as hair pins or cotton swabs, can puncture your eardrum and cause it to tear.

Severe head trauma: Severe injury, such as fracturing your skull, could cause the middle and inner ear structures to be damages or dislocated, including your eardrum.

Treatment

Perforated eardrums normally heal on their own within a couple of weeks, and can be accompanied with antibiotic drops if you have an infection.  If it does not heal on its own, there are a couple of options to treat the problem.

  • Eardrum patch – If a hole or tear in your eardrum does not close with time on its own, it can be sealed with a patch by an ENT specialist.  The doctor will cover the edges of the tear with a chemical that stimulates growth and will then patch the hole.  This process may need to be done more than once before the perforation is healed.
  • Surgery – If the patch does not work, and your ENT does not think the perforation will heal with the patch, they will likely recommend surgery.  A procedure called a tympanoplasty is the most common surgical option used in this situation.  The surgeon will use your own tissue to graft a tiny patch to close the tear in your eardrum.  It is an outpatient procedure, which means that you will probably be able to go home the same day.

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