A perforated or ruptured eardrum occurs when a hole or tear develops in this flap of skin in the ear. Since a perforated eardrum can lead to hearing loss or leave your ear susceptible to infection, you must be able to recognize the signs of a perforated eardrum so you can turn to an ENT doctor right away. While a perforated eardrum will often heal on its own without treatment, it is still best to see your doctor.
What causes a perforated eardrum?
One of the most common causes of a perforated eardrum is a middle ear infection, which can cause the eardrum to rupture due to a buildup of fluids that puts pressure on the eardrum. Sometimes a ruptured eardrum can occur due to pressure changes in the atmosphere as compared to the air pressure in your ear. When there is a severe imbalance, such as can happen while flying in an airplane or scuba diving, the eardrum may rupture.
Head trauma, injury or objects being placed in the ear, and even loud noises also have the ability to rupture an eardrum.
What are the warning signs and symptoms of a ruptured eardrum?
If you have an ear infection chances are fairly good that you are dealing with a lot of pain, pressure, and fullness in the ear. You may even have muffled hearing as a result. If the pressure builds up and you don’t see a doctor for treatment this can cause the eardrum to burst. When the eardrum bursts you may notice instant relief from pain. You may also notice that the pressure goes away and that the ear starts to drain. There may even be pus present in the fluid that’s draining from the ears. Sometimes there is blood.
It is not uncommon to have changes in hearing as a result of the ruptured eardrum; however, with the proper care and treatment, the hearing should return once the eardrum has fully healed.
How long does a perforated eardrum take to heal?
It can take a couple of weeks and even up to a couple of months for the eardrum to heal. Certain factors may slow the healing process. It’s important not to get the ear wet and to protect it from further injury while it is healing. You may also need to visit your ENT doctor regularly for checkups until the eardrum has fully healed.
If you are showing signs of a perforated eardrum, don’t wait to turn to your ear, nose, and throat doctor for care. Protect your hearing and your health by turning to an ear, nose, and throat doctor who can determine the best course of action.