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Updated on January 26, 2021

Perforated Eardrum

The eardrum has 2 important functions to allow us to hear;

  • It converts sound waves coming into your ear into vibrations to be sent to the cochlear. Cilia at the cochlear changes these vibrations into nerve impulses which is sent via the auditory nerve to your brain where it is heard as recognisable sounds or voice
  • It forms a physical barrier to protect the middle ear from water, foreign bodies and bacteria

Causes

  • Middle ear infection (most common cause)
  • Trauma to the eardrum (using cotton tips or being poked)
  • Head injury (like a slap or motor vehicle accident)
  • Sudden extremely loud noise (usually explosion or loud concerts)
  • Sudden change in pressure (scuba diver or decompression in airplane)

Symptoms

You may not feel any changes especially in the presence of an ear infection which is causing discomfort.  Some may experience the following symptoms;

  • Drainage of liquid or pus
  • Sudden sharp ear pain
  • Partial loss of hearing
  • Buzzing noise from the affected ear

Treatment

Some perforated eardrums may heal by itself without treatment within a few weeks. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic medication to prevent infection during this healing period and analgesia for your pain symptoms.  However, surgery (called Myringoplasty or Tympanoplasty) may be recommended if there is recurrent infection or if the tear or hole in the eardrum has become permanent (where the tear has not healed after 2-3 months). This surgery is performed to prevent further ear infections especially for people who are active in swimming or water sports where water frequently enter the ears.  The surgery is NOT meant to improve hearing. 

Click to view Fauquier video on Eardrum repair

Post-surgery Care

You may be prescribed ear medication and/or antibiotics after the surgery to reduce the risk of infection.  You may have some blood or liquid ear discharge for the first 1-2 weeks and your ear may feel blocked for the first 3-4 weeks. Your doctor may recommend a hearing test when the condition has completely resolved to assess your level of hearing.

Do’s and Don’t’s

DO keep your ear dry using silicone earplug or cotton ball coated with petroleum jelly during showering or bathing

DO keep your follow-up appointment to ensure good healing

DO NOT blow your nose

DO NOT clean your ears with cotton bud

DO NOT participate in strenuous activities like weight lifting or contact sports

DO NOT go swimming or scuba diving for at least 3 months

DO NOT go on an air flight until your doctor gives you permission

See your ENT surgeon if you experience sudden ear pain or hearing loss

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Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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