Ruptured Eardrum: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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Your eardrum is a thin flap of skin that is stretched just like a drum, and it keeps your inner ear, which is very delicate, from the outside world. Also, it vibrates when it is hit by sound, sending information to the brain by means of the tiny bones in your middle and the auditory nerve.

Known in the medical field as “tympanic membrane”, your eardrum may end up punctured. When it happens, the so-called “ruptured eardrum” or “perforated eardrum” is the diagnosis.

Having a ruptured eardrum is not a good thing. For one, it can introduce bacteria in the middle ear, which can lead to an infection. It’s also something that can cause changes in your hearing. In some cases, a ruptured eardrum can lead to hearing loss. When the perforation is severe, surgery is most likely the treatment.

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Causes

There are number of things that can cause the eardrum to become ruptured or perforated. One of them is an ear infection, which is something that’s very common in children. During an infection, fluid collects right behind the eardrum. The pressure applied by the accumulated fluid can cause the eardrum to break.

Another cause of ruptured eardrum which is quite common is trauma or injury. Any impact to the ear or near it may cause the eardrum to rupture. People who engage in contact sports are definitely at risk of having ruptured eardrum.

From time to time, do you insert a cotton swab, hairpin or any long and thin object deep into your ear canal? Then it’s not unlikely for you to have your eardrum ruptured most especially if you’re not careful. You may also wind up with ruptured eardrum during pressure changes or exposure to extremely loud sounds.

Symptoms

You will definitely know when you have ruptured or punctured your eardrum because it is accompanied by pain, which is regarded by the experts as the main symptom of ruptured eardrum. In some cases, the level of pain may remain the same throughout the day. Sometimes it may increase or decrease.

Temporary loss or reduction of hearing may also be experienced when your eardrum is compromised. It’s also possible for you to hear a buzzing or ringing sound in your ear, which is medically termed as “tinnitus”.
Eventually, your ear may drain. This usually happens once the pain goes away. The drainage may appear watery or pus-filled. Sometimes it may have blood in it, too. According to medical professionals, blood coming from the ears may indicate that there is a middle ear infection, which can cause ruptured eardrum.

Do take note that you should seek medical attention if one or more of the following is present: vertigo, high fever, a terrible headache, stiff neck, vomiting, difficulty in speaking, changes in vision, and problem staying awake. The presence of these symptoms can indicate that the problem is a serious one.

Treatment

Mild cases of ruptured eardrum usually require no treatment at all. Usually, your eardrum can heal itself in a couple of months. If pain is present, a doctor may give you painkillers. At home, you may count on applying warm and dry compress on the affected ear for relief. It’s also a good idea to refrain from blowing your nose or swimming until full healing of your eardrum is attained.

Antibiotics may be prescribed if the cause of the problem is an ear infection. It’s possible for a doctor to prescribe orally-taken antibiotics or eardrops that are medicated. Antibiotics will not only deal with the preexisting ear infection, but also prevent additional infection that a ruptured eardrum may bring about.

In some instances, having the eardrum repaired surgically may be warranted. This involves using tissue obtained elsewhere on your body as a patch for the hole or break on the eardrum. By the way, the surgical repair of the eardrum is called “tympanoplasty”.


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