ENT Head & Neck Surgery Center

Rm 02, 5/F., Kai Seng Commerical Centre,
4-6 Hankow Road, TST Kln, HK
(near Kowloon Hotel)
Tel: (852) 3100 0555
Fax: (852) 3100 0556

Lawrence Chow / ENT Doctor

A Ruptured Eardrum Is a Serious Condition!

Think of a drum with a hole in the middle and it can be likened to a ruptured eardrum – it’s a serious condition that will likely need prompt and proper attention!  But where a ruptured drum cannot make sound, a ruptured eardrum cannot receive sound.


Also known as tympanic membrane perforation, a ruptured eardrum is a tear or a hole in the eardrum. This is the thin tissue separating the ear canal from the middle ear.  It’s as serious as it sounds – it can result in hearing loss and it can increase the risk of infections in the middle ear.


Well, we have to be honest. Some cases of ruptured eardrums will heal without medical treatment, usually within a few weeks. But there are some cases that will require medical intervention, usually in the form of surgery, for the ruptured eardrum to heal.


The Risks of an Untreated Ruptured Eardrum


The tympanic membrane, or the eardrum, has two major roles:

  • It’s essential in the sense of hearing. When sound waves strike your eardrum, it translates them onto nerve impulses.
  • It’s important in protecting your middle ear from foreign objects, such as water, and foreign organisms like bacteria.


As such, a ruptured eardrum can cause complications like:

  • Hearing loss, which may only be temporary but can worsen without proper treatment. The degree of hearing loss is influenced by the size and location of the hole.
  • Otitis media, or middle ear infection, since bacteria can now enter the ear. The infection can be recurrent or chronic, and it can cause hearing loss and persistent drainage.
  • Cholesteatoma, or middle ear cyst, an extremely rare condition. It’s characterized by the accumulation of skin cells and other ear canal debris on the middle ear. It’s a place that promotes bacterial growth and contains proteins resulting in damage to the bones in the middle ear, too.


These complications can happen within three to six months after the rupture occurs.


The Signs to Look Out for


But don’t wait for three months before seeing your ENT doctor! If you experience these signs, you should immediately set an appointment to get a definitive diagnosis.

  • Pain in the ear that may quickly subside
  • Drainage from your ear, which looks like pus, mucus or blood
  • Loss of hearing
  • Vertigo, or a spinning sensation
  • Tinnitus, or a phantom ringing, hissing or buzzing in your ears
  • Nausea and/or vomiting accompanying the vertigo


You should avoid putting pressure on your external ear, much less putting foreign objects into it, such as using cotton buds. You’re only worsening the injury otherwise. You can ask your ENT doctor about the best ways to deal with these symptoms while waiting for your appointment.


Antibiotics are usually the first line of defense for perforated eardrums. But surgery may be necessary, too, and it comes in the form of an eardrum patch or a tympanoplasty.


For details of our ENT services, diagnosis, and treatment, please consult HK ENT specialist.




HK ENT Specialist Ltd.

Hong Kong based ENT clinic centre

For ENT Services, Audiology & Speech Therapy,

Sleep Disordered Breathing Management,

Hearing Aid Prescription & Medical Cosmetic Services


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