What is a perforated eardrum?

A burst or perforated eardrum is described as a tear on the eardrum in the inner ear. This can cause a certain degree of discomfort but typically heals on its own within a few weeks. A perforated eardrum can be caused by exposure to loud noises, impact or an infection.


The symptoms usually include hearing loss that is proportional to the extent of the tear sustained. There is also earache that is accompanied by buzzing or ringing sounds in the ear. In some cases, there is also drainage of mucus from the ear.


One of the most common causes of a perforated eardrum is trauma. Remember that this might be due to a head injury such as impact to the side of the head or can occur from any object that was poked into the ear such as a cotton bud. This is why it is important to be careful not to poke any objects inside the ear.

Perforated eardrum

There is also earache that is accompanied by buzzing or ringing sounds in the ear.

Exposure to sudden loud noises such as an explosion can damage the ear, including the eardrum. Take note that this usually leads to severe hearing loss and ringing in the ears. An ear infection can also cause a perforated eardrum. If there is a build-up of pus within the ear, it will add pressure on the eardrum until it ruptures. Abrupt changes in the air pressure can also cause a perforated eardrum. This typically occurs during scuba diving, flying as well as sky diving or driving at areas with high altitudes.

Management of a perforated eardrum

If an individual is suspected with a perforated eardrum, it is important to schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible. During the assessment, the doctor will inspect the inside of the ear using an auriscope. This tool will allow the doctor to see if the eardrum is torn and the degree of damage. Most cases of perforated eardrums typically heal within a span of 2 months.

The doctor will prescribe pain or anti-inflammatory medications to help ease any discomfort. If the perforated eardrum was instigated by an infection, the doctor will prescribed antibiotics to clear up the infection and allow the eardrum to properly heal.

It is vital to keep the ear dry while the eardrum is healing and avoid any changes in the pressure. Due to this, diving, swimming and flying must be avoided until the eardrum has fully healed.  To learn to recognize and manage the symptoms caused by this injury, sign up for a first aid course with a credible provider near you.

In some cases, if the eardrum does not heal or in severe cases, surgery might be the last resort. The surgical procedure is called as myringoplasty and involves the use of a small-sized skin graft that was taken from the area above the ear in order to fix the eardrum.


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