Signs You Might Have A Ruptured Eardrum

Health Education
3 mins
Signs You Might Have A Ruptured Eardrum

A ruptured eardrum sounds just about as bad as it is. Pain in your ears and resulting hearing loss can drive a person to seek medical attention. The signs of a ruptured eardrum can come on fast and furious. However, the good news is that it is seldom a permanent condition.

Symptoms of a Ruptured Eardrum

An eardrum ruptures when there is a hole or a tear in the ear canal. Specifically, there is a membrane separating the ear canal from the middle ear. When that thin tissue tears, it is called a tympanic membrane perforation. More commonly, this is referred to as a ruptured eardrum, because that is exactly what happens.

The most common symptom of a ruptured eardrum is immediate ear pain. In some cases, this can be quick to arise and sharp. In certain cases, the pain might go away soon after the injury. Or, in other cases, the pain can linger. 

Accompanied by the temperamental pain, there might be a persistent buzzing sound in the affected ear. In addition, you may experience partial hearing loss, sometimes brought on by tinnitus (ringing in the ear). The varying degrees of hearing loss change from person to person and depend on the severity of the injury. Other symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Drainage from the ear — If present, this can look like a mucus, pus-filled, or bloody excretion.
  • A sense of vertigo or dizziness — The inner ear is largely responsible for the body’s natural state of balance. When injured, a person may feel faint or wobbly.
  • Nausea or vomiting — This is often a secondary symptom caused by vertigo.

Can an Eardrum Rupture Result In Permanent Damage?

Long-term symptoms of an eardrum rupture can be facial weakness and recurring ear infections. Though it is unlikely to result in permanent damage, symptoms of a ruptured eardrum can last for several weeks. 

A perforated tympanic membrane will usually heal on its own, given time. In some instances, complications such as infection of the middle ear can occur. Moreover, a ruptured eardrum is susceptible to bacteria. In worst-case scenarios, an infected, ruptured eardrum can bring recurrent or chronic drainage. Lastly, long-term hearing loss may also be a factor when dealing with inner ear infections. It’s always wise to seek immediate care if your eardrum ruptures.

Treatment for a Ruptured Eardrum

The inner ear is an area consisting of delicate bodily structures. That’s why a ruptured eardrum is a common injury. Though a ruptured eardrum may be the cause of future inner ear infections, it’s not always the case. Bacterial or viral infections can cause ear infections as well.

The injury most often occurs when a person is struck in the ear by a foreign object. Additionally, cotton swabs inserted into the ear canal with too much force can puncture or perforate an eardrum. Most doctors do not recommend using cotton swabs as an inner ear cleaning tool. Cotton swabs cause severe pain if pushed too deep. They can also force earwax further in, rather than sweeping it out.

Once an eardrum has ruptured, it will usually heal on its own without treatment. The healing process takes about two weeks. Occasionally, a severe injury may require a patch or surgical repair. 

BASS Medical is Here to Help

A ruptured eardrum can be unpleasant, but you don’t have to suffer alone. At BASS Medical, our otolaryngology department is well-equipped to handle injuries and ailments having to do with the ears, nose, and throat. If you have questions about ruptured eardrums or any other condition within otolaryngology, the staff at BASS Medical can help. Contact us today for more information about ruptured eardrums, or to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified ENT specialists.