How Do I Know If My Eardrum Is Ruptured?

A ruptured or perforated eardrum sounds dreadfully serious. The truth is, in some cases, it can heal on its own and you won’t even know it happened. On the other hand, it is also something to be concerned about as it can present several risks to your hearing. How do I know if my eardrum is ruptured?

What Is A Ruptured Eardrum?woman in pain from ruptured eardrum

A ruptured eardrum is a tear or hole in the tissue separating your ear canal from your middle ear. If it doesn’t heal on its own in several weeks time, a patch or even surgery may be needed.

If left untreated, and it does not heal on its own, it can lead to hearing loss and make your middle ear more at risk for infections and the development of cysts.

How Do I Know If My Eardrum Is Ruptured?

There are a number of signs and symptoms that can indicate a ruptured eardrum. They include some of the following: a sudden increase or decrease in pain, bloody discharge from the ear with pus, hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo or a spinning sensation, and nausea and vomiting from the vertigo.

Some people don’t notice any real pain from a ruptured eardrum, just a discomfort in the ear.

Common Causes Of A Ruptured Eardrum

An ear infection is one of the main causes for an eardrum to rupture.

Some others include:

  • Changes in air pressure like on an airplane
  • A blow to the head or trauma
  • Sudden loud noise or explosion
  • Scuba diving
  • Foreign object inserted in the ear like a cotton swab or bobby pin
  • Other small objects a child may insert in their ear

Risks To Consider

If a ruptured eardrum does not heal on its own within a few months, you risk several complications. Hearing loss is usually temporary and varies with the degree and location of the tear.

Bacteria can enter the middle ear causing infections which can become chronic along with hearing loss and chronic drainage from the ear. This is known as otitis media.

Although it is rare, cysts can form in the middle ear causing damage to the bones in your middle ear.

Be especially on the lookout for symptoms of a perforated eardrum in children, and see Southern California Ear, Nose & Throat if you suspect they may have one.

Treatment For A Ruptured Eardrum

Antibiotic drops are a common treatment for a ruptured eardrum, especially if infection is apparent and the tear has not healed on its own.

Patching is another way to close the tear.

As a last resort, surgery may be recommended using your own tissue to close the hole.

Contact Southern California Ear, Nose & Throat for an evaluation if you are experiencing any symptoms of a ruptured eardrum.