What is a perforated eardrum?
A perforated eardrum is also commonly referred to as a "ruptured" eardrum. It is a hole in the eardrum or "tympanic membrane" - the thin membrane which separates the ear canal from the middle ear.
What causes a perforated eardrum?
A perforated eardrum is generally caused by either trauma or a middle ear infection. Examples of different types of trauma that would cause a perforated eardrum are: a skull fracture, a sudden explosion, sticking something such as a Q-tip too far into the ear, or getting hit in the ear.
This condition is most often accompanied by decreased hearing and occasionally a bloody drainage from the ear. The amount of hearing loss that occurs depends on the size and location of the hole in the membrane. Pain may be inconsistent.
How is a perforated eardrum treated?
Many acutely perforated eardrums can heal by themselves after a few weeks, however, some may take up to several months. A person with this condition should avoid water (showering or swimming) and trauma to the ear during the healing process.
If the perforation does not heal on its own, surgery may be necessary. The surgery allows healing by placing tissue across the perforation. This procedure is known as a tympanoplasty.