How to treat ruptured eardrum

A ruptured eardrum is a tear in the thin membrane or the tympanic membrane that separates the inner ear from the outer ear. The membrane is made of tissue that looks like skin. The membrane vibrates due to sounds that enter the ear. The vibration will spread through the bones of the middle ear and makes us to hear sounds. If eardrum is damaged, it will result to hearing difficulties.

Symptoms of ruptured eardrum

  • Sudden severe pain in the ear or sudden lessened pain in the ear
  • Bloody drainage coming from the ear. It can be clear or resembles pus.
  • Buzzing or ear noise
  • Episodic ear infections
  • Partial or total loss of hearing in the affected ear
  • Facial weakness or dizziness
    ruptured-eardrum

    Sudden severe pain in the ear or sudden lessened pain in the ear.

Causes

  • Infections of the ear where fluids build up behind the eardrum. The pressure caused by the buildup of fluids will result to a break or rupture of the tympanic membrane.
  • Changes in pressure or barotrauma which happens when the pressure outside the ear is different from the pressure inside the ear. It includes activities such as flying in an airplane, scuba diving, driving at high altitudes, shock waves, and a direct and strong impact to the ear.
  • Injuries or trauma to the ear such as direct blow to the ear, falling on the ear, vehicular accidents and sports injuries.
  • Inserting objects into the ear such as fingernail, cotton swab, and pen.
  • Acoustic trauma or damage to the ear due to extremely loud noises.

Symptoms

  • Severe pain in the area
  • Bloody, watery and fluid filled with pus drains from the affected ear
  • Temporary loss of hearing in the affected ear
  • A constant ringing or buzzing in the ears or dizziness

Treatment

  • Wear the prescribed patch for the eardrum. Patching is performed by placing a medicated paper on the tear in the membrane for fast healing of the condition.
  • Take the prescribed oral antibiotics or medicated eardrops that both can be used to lessen the infection.
  • Apply warm compress on the affected ear several times every day to lessen discomforts. Soak a clean washcloth in hot water, wring out excess water and then place over the ear to lessen the pain and the inflammation.
  • Take the prescribed over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to lessen the pain.
  • Maintain cleanliness of the ear while in the healing stage. When taking a bath or showering, place cotton balls in the ear to prevent water from entering the ear and cause further irritation and worsen the condition. Avoid swimming or putting the head underneath the water.

Tips

  • Treat ear infections immediately to prevent making the condition worse.
  • Avoid putting anything inside the ears, even cleaning it using Q-tips.
  • Avoid flying or scuba dive if having sinus infections or upper respiratory tract infections. If there is a need to fly or scuba dive, pinch the nose and swallow air frequently to equalize the pressure.
  • Wear protection for the ears such as ear plugs or protection when performing sports activities.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on a ruptured eardrum is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage this condition by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.

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