Ruptured Eardrum Symptoms and Treatments
A ruptured ear or perforated tympanic membrane occurs when a tear or hole appears in the eardrum, separating the middle ear and ear canal. If this occurs, your middle ear becomes susceptible to injury and hearing loss. While some ruptured eardrums heal quickly, others require treatment or surgery.
Ear pain is the most common symptom and may be accompanied by bloody, pus filled or clear drainage. You will also experience some degree of hearing loss, hear ringing sounds or feel vertigo, resulting in vomiting and/or nausea. It’s very important you see a doctor because the inner and middle ears are very delicate and susceptible to disease if not treated.
Middle ear infection can lead to fluid accumulation in the middle ear, and the pressure buildup could lead to a rupture. Another possible cause is barotrauma, whereby stressed is placed on your eardrums due to an imbalance of air pressure in the ear and the environment, a condition that usually occurs during air travel.
There are many other possible causes such as scuba diving, getting struck by an air bag or a blow to the ear. Loud sounds may cause a rupture, and inserting small objects might also damage the ear drum.
Protect your ears if you’re going on a flight, and if it’s at all possible, don’t fly if you got a cold. During landings and takeoffs, make sure that you put on pressure equalizing earplugs or that you’re chewing gum. You can also prevent ruptured eardrums if you stay awake during descents and ascents, as ear pressure will remain even.
In addition, you should keep foreign objects off your ears, and don’t remove hardened or excess earwax with a hairpin or paperclip as these can puncture your eardrum easily.
If you experience any symptoms of a ruptured eardrum, see an ENT specialist immediately for the ENT services and treatment. Once your condition has been diagnosed, the ENT might prescribe an eardrum patch, which effectively seals the rupture. During this procedure, the ENT applies a specially formulated chemical around the tear to accelerate growth, after which a patch is applied over the opening.
If the patch doesn’t work, surgery might be required, but this option will only be suggested by the ENT specialist if it’s determined that the patch cannot repair the tear. Various surgical procedures are available, but the most widely performed is tympanoplasty.
During tympanoplasty, the surgeon takes a small patch of your tissue and applies it over the hole in your eardrum. While this is a surgical procedure, it’s performed on an outpatient basis, so once the surgery is over you can go home. The only reason for you to stay in the hospital is if complications arise, which is very rare.
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