You’ve probably heard the advice countless times—don’t stick cotton swabs inside your ear. One reason for this is that it could lead to a perforated eardrum, which can result in hearing loss and an increased risk of infection. If you’re experiencing a ruptured eardrum, our team at Charleston ENT & Allergycan identify the next steps and help you navigate the road to recovery.
What Is the Eardrum?
The eardrum is the tissue that separates the ear canal and the middle ear. It vibrates from sound waves striking it, and structures in the middle and inner ears translate these sound waves into nerve impulses.
Additionally, the eardrum also protects the middle ear from water, bacteria and other foreign substances.
What Happens When the Eardrum is Ruptured?
A perforation creates a hole in the tympanic membrane across the eardrum. Because this limits its ability to vibrate, it can result in hearing loss. Additionally, it can allow bacteria to enter the ear and lead to an ear infection.
What Causes a Ruptured Eardrum?
This condition can result from:
- Infection: Pressure from middle ear infections can lead to a ruptured eardrum.
- Injury: This can range from head trauma to inserting foreign objects in the ear.
- Eustachian tube disorders: Chronic Eustachian tube problems can weaken the eardrum, making it more prone to perforation.
What Are the Symptoms of a Perforated Eardrum?
- A sudden sharp pain in the ear
- A discharge of fluid that may be bloody, clear or pus-like
- A buzzing or ringing in the ear
- Partial or complete hearing loss in the affected ear
- Ear infection
- Facial weakness or dizziness
How Can I Prevent a Perforated Eardrum?
- Avoid putting objects in your ears
- Seek treatment for middle ear infections
- Protect your ears from loud noises
When Should I Seek Treatment?
Call our office if you think you may have a ruptured eardrum. Though it might heal on its own, our provider can determine what’s causing your symptoms. In some cases, surgery might be required.
If surgery is not needed, our ENT ear specialist can discuss home remedies to relieve your symptoms. Potential options are nonprescription pain medicine and gently pressing a warm cloth against the ear. It’s also helpful to keep the ear dry and avoid blowing your nose.
A ruptured eardrum can be painful, but you don’t have to manage it on your own. Contact our office today to begin treatment.