Eardrum Perforation

The eardrum is a thin, round tissue inside the ear that separates the ear canal from the middle ear. This is the tissue that detects sound and enables you to hear. The eardrum can be punctured or torn (perforated). Eardrums generally heal without help and with little or no permanent hearing loss.

CAUSES

  • Sudden pressure changes that happen in situations like scuba diving or flying in an airplane.

  • Foreign objects in the ear.

  • Inserting a cotton-tipped swab in the ear.

  • Loud noise.

  • Trauma to the ear.

SYMPTOMS

  • Hearing loss.

  • Ear pain.

  • Ringing in the ears.

  • Discharge or bleeding from the ear.

  • Dizziness.

  • Vomiting.

  • Facial paralysis.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Keep your ear dry, as this improves healing. Swimming, diving, and showers are not allowed until healing is complete. While bathing, protect the ear by placing a piece of cotton covered with petroleum jelly in the outer ear canal.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • Blow your nose gently. Forceful blowing increases the pressure in the middle ear and may cause further injury or delay healing.

  • Resume normal activities, such as showering, when the perforation has healed. Your caregiver can let you know when this has occurred.

  • Talk to your caregiver before flying on an airplane. Air travel is generally allowed with a perforated eardrum.

  • If your caregiver has given you a follow-up appointment, it is very important to keep that appointment. Failure to keep the appointment could result in a chronic or permanent injury, pain, hearing loss, and disability.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have bleeding or pus coming from your ear.

  • You have problems with balance, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting.

  • You develop increased pain.

  • You have a fever.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.