Eardrum is a thin tympanic membrane that lies between the outer ear and middle ear. The eardrum vibrates when sound waves enter the ear canal. Nerve cells lying in the middle ear and inner ear transmit this sound wave to your brain for its interpretation. Eardrum rupture is perforation or hole in the tympanic membrane (eardrum).
Eardrum rupture can cause loss of hearing. Frequent middle ear infection is common when a person has eardrum rupture. If the tear or the hole in the eardrum is very small, it may heal within a week and no medication may be required.However, if the rupture is large it may need surgery to correct the defect.
What Causes An Eardrum To Rupture?
There are many causes for your eardrum to get ruptured.
- Trauma to the ear can result into eardrum rupture.
- An infection in the ear can lead to rupture of the eardrum.
- Sudden change in air pressure, such as when you fly in an airplane, or when you dive deep in the sea can traumatize your eardrum. This happens due to extreme difference between the outside atmospheric pressure and pressure inside the ear.
- Exposure to loud music or loud noise such as a gunshot, firework, can cause eardrum perforation.
- Most common cause of perforation is due to sticking foreign object in the ear, such as pins to remove wax. This common mistake by many individuals can cause a hole in their eardrum.
Symptoms Of Eardrum Rupture
Most of the symptoms of eardrum perforation are limited to ear, however in severe cases it can affect other part of the body. If there is systemic involvement, you need immediate medical treatment.
- The immediate symptom of eardrum rupture is pain in the ear. Small quantity of blood may leak from the ear. There may be watery discharge from the ear.
- Ringing or buzzing in the ear.
- Discharge of pus or blood.
- Loss of hearing. It can be mild loss, in some cases there is total loss of hearing in the affected ear.
- Dizziness and vertigo.
- Nausea and vomiting.
Sometimes rupture of eardrum needs to be evaluated immediately. In such cases seek immediate medical help. Following are the symptoms that need immediate medical intervention.
- Non -stop bleeding from the ear.
- If there is associated symptoms of cold and flu, such as running nose, sore throat, fever, body ache and cough.
- Total hearing loss.
- Weakness of the facial muscles.
Treatment For Ruptured Eardrum
- Once the eardrum is perforated, the immediate goal is to relieve pain and prevent infection or treat infection already present in the ear.
- Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and analgesics to relieve pain and prevent infection.
- Put warm towel on the ear, it is effective in relieving pain and discomfort.
- It is important to keep your ears dry while eardrum is healing.
- Place cotton ball in your ear canal while bathing or shampooing your hairs. Avoid swimming for few weeks or months. It will prevent water from entering into the ear.
- Avoid blowing your nose; pressure created while blowing may further damage the eardrum.
- If the tear does not heal on its own, the ENT specialist may put a paper patch to seal the hole and stimulate the healing process.
- Surgery is necessary if conservative treatment fails. It is known as tympanoplasty.