A perforated eardrum is a hole or rupture in the eardrum. This condition is also known as a tympanic membrane rupture. An eardrum can rupture as a result of infection, injury or eustachian tube disorders.
This tear in the membrane separates the outer ear from the middle ear and can lead to a middle ear infection. In most cases, it will heal on its own, but it may cause hearing loss.
Effects of a Perforated Eardrum
The eardrum protects the middle ear from bacteria, moisture and other foreign debris as well as nerve impulses sent to the brain. A ruptured eardrum will disrupt both of these functions by potentially causing hearing loss and allowing bacteria in, which may cause an ear infection.
While some people may experience no symptoms with a ruptured eardrum, others may experience sharp pain. Other symptoms may include a buzzing or ringing, partial hearing loss, ear infection, dizziness, facial weakness or drainage of bloody, clear or pus-like fluid.
Through an exam, a doctor can diagnose a hole or tear in the eardrum. No treatment may be needed other than antibiotics to prevent or treat infection because the majority of perforated eardrums heal on their own in a few months.
Nonprescription pain medication and a warm compress can help with discomfort; however, large perforations may require surgery. While the rupture is healing the ear needs to be kept dry and free of water as much as possible.
If you or someone you care for is experiencing symptoms of a perforated eardrum, please contact our North Sioux City office at (605) 217-4327 to schedule an appointment.