Perforated eardrum

Symptoms

Symptoms of a perforated eardrum can be:

  • Ear pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Fever
  • A discharge from the ear

Causes

The most common cause of a perforated eardrum is an ear infection but you can also have a perforated eardrum from an ear injury, such as poking a cotton bud too far into your ear, changes in pressure from flying or scuba diving or a sudden loud noise, such as an explosion.

Diagnosis

Visual inspection (otoscopy) can identify a perforated eardrum. An audiology professional can confirm the diagnosis of a perforated eardrum using a test called tympanometry, which uses a puff of air to determine if the eardrum responds appropriately.

Treatment and prevention

Ruptured eardrums often improve by themselves after a few weeks or months, so they don't always require any treatment but it is best to speak with a medical professional to determine the cause and recommend any treatment. In some cases where the eardrum doesn't heal over time, an ear, nose and throat specialist may be able to perform surgery to patch the eardrum. This may need ongoing maintenance.

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