The eardrum is a thin membrane which separates the outer ear canal from the middle ear. A hole or a tear in this membrane is called eardrum rupture. In medical parlance, the condition is called perforation of tympanic membrane. Eardrum in medical literature is called tympanic membrane.
Rupture in eardrum can cause hearing loss.
The eardrum also safeguards the middle from infection by preventing the bacteria, water, and other wastes from entering inside the middle ear. With a rupture in eardrum the middle ear becomes vulnerable to infection. A small rupture may usually heal without any treatment, but if the tear is large it may require surgical intervention.
Ruptured Eardrum Symptoms
The symptoms of eardrum rupture may be noticed by some patients, while many cases they remain undetected until the patient consults his doctor for an unusual feeling in the ear.
- A sudden shooting pain in the ear is often the first symptom noted in eardrum rupture.
- Heaviness and sensation of fullness in the ear.
- Drainage of blood or white discharge from the ear.
- Drainage of pus and thick discharge from the ear few days after the perforation.
- Pain reduces when drainage of blood or pus begins.
- Hearing loss.
- Sensation of ringing in the ear also known as tinnitus.
- In some cases person suffers from vertigo.
What Causes An Eardrum Rupture?
There are several causes for eardrum rupture.
- Cleaning the ears with pins and matchstick or any sharp object is the most common cause for an eardrum rupture. The eardrum can get injured when these objects are pushed too deep inside the ear canal.
- A sudden blow on the ears or on the head can lead to rupture of the thin tympanic membrane.
- Exposure to loud sound or an explosion can damage the eardrum. People listening to high decibel stereophonic sound are vulnerable to eardrum rupture and eventually hearing loss.
- Patient suffering from chronic Eustachian tube problem of the middle ear, resulting in middle ear infection.
- Imbalance in external atmospheric and internal ear pressure, as it happens while ascent or decent of airplanes may cause rupture of eardrum.
Treatment For A Perforated Eardrum
Most cases of eardrum rupture heal without treatment within few weeks. However, it is always better to consult a specialist.
- If the tear or the hole does not heal within few weeks the doctor may advice the patient to seal the tear with a patch. This procedure is usually done in the doctor’s office where he applies some chemical to the edges of the thin membrane. The chemical stimulates the growth of cells. A paper patch is then applied on the hole to seal it.
- If the tear is large or in the event of failure of eardrum patch, the doctor may advise the patient to undergo surgical repair of the eardrum which is also called tympanoplasty.
- An important aspect that needs to be kept in mind regarding eardrum rupture is to plug the ears with cotton or ear plugs while taking bath. This will prevent water from entering the ears.
- Patient should not try to clean his ears without the permission of the doctor. He should avoid blowing his nose.
- Patient may be prescribed anti inflammatory pain killer to alleviate acute pain caused by perforation of eardrum. Applying a hot pad over the ears can also give relief in pain to some extent.