A ruptured eardrum is a tear in the tissue that is between the ear canal and middle ear. It is caused by either blunt trauma or a middle ear infection. If torn, it can impair your hearing permanently. If this injury should happen to you, seek medical help immediately.
Causes of a Ruptured Eardrum
There are many causes of a ruptured eardrum. While some are more common than others, they all can cause moderate to severe damage if not taken care of properly.
Middle Ear Infection – An infection in the middle ear causes fluid to remain inside. The fluid slowly builds pressure and can cause a tear or rupture to the tissue. This is the most common cause of an eardrum rupture.
Loud Noise – A loud noise can cause trauma and tearing of the eardrum using acoustics. The resulting sound waves can cause pressure inside the ear and affect the ear tissue.
Blunt Trauma – Blunt trauma of the ear can puncture and tear the eardrum. Using cotton swabs or any foreign materials inside the ear can cause the injury.
Head Trauma – Severe head trauma on the skull or the surrounding area can also cause eardrum rupture. Severe falls, injuries, or accidents can dislocate or damage the ear construction and ultimately affect the eardrum severely.
Barotrauma – When air pressure in your middle ear and air pressure in your environment are not in balance, this can cause severe stress to the eardrum. If severe enough, this will cause eardrum rupture. This is typically seen during air travel, deep water diving, or direct trauma to the ear.
How to Identify a Ruptured Eardrum
If you suspect you have ruptured your eardrum, look for the following signs and symptoms:
Bloody Drainage — There may be fluid draining from the affected ear. Take a clean tissue to clean the fluid that is outside of the ear canal. The fluid may be bloody, pus-filled, clear and watery, or a mixture of some or all of the described.
Ringing — A ruptured eardrum can also cause ringing, or tinnitus, in your ear.
Vertigo – You may experience a spinning sensation around you called vertigo. This can also cause prolonged nausea or motion sickness.
If you experience any of these symptoms or experience pain, aching, or general discomfort, call your doctor immediately.
Write down any symptoms or experiences you are have before you arrive at your doctor’s office. Include your medical history, any recent events that may have exposed you to trauma or injury, and recent travel. In addition, provide any medicinal information that you are currently taking or have taken within the past six months to a year. Share your checklist with your doctor in order to give an accurate description of what is going on.
Medical Examination and Diagnosis
Schedule an appointment with your family doctor. The office may refer you to an ENT specialist to diagnose the issue.
Once in the office, your doctor will physically examine your affected ear. Using a medical instrument calle