Your eardrum, also known as the tympanic membrane, is a vital component of the hearing process. Separating the outer and middle ear, the eardrum is responsible for converting soundwaves into vibrations that move through the ear. Ripping this membrane, in addition to being painful, can lead to hearing loss and put you at risk of an infection. Understanding the signs of a ruptured eardrum can help you seek treatment quickly.
Causes of a Perforated Eardrum
There are a number of conditions that can lead to a ruptured eardrum. The most common are outlined below.
Middle Ear Infection
When fluid builds up in the middle ear, this increase in pressure can cause the eardrum to rupture.
Often caused by air travel, this occurs when the pressure within the middle ear is not balanced with the pressure in the environment. This uneven pressure can apply stress to the eardrum and cause it to rupture.
Additional causes of barotrauma include scuba diving and a direct hit to the head, such as the impact from an airbag during a car accident.
Exposure to an extremely loud sound from an explosion or gunshot can create an overpowering soundwave that can damage the eardrum.
Placing a foreign object in the ear, usually a cotton swab, can tear the eardrum. While done with the best of intensions, cleaning the ear with a cotton swab does more harm than good.
Symptoms & Treatment
Being able to identify the signs of a ruptured is important for a swift recovery. Symptoms include:
The hearing loss from a ruptured eardrum will usually resolve after the tear has healed.
Most perforated eardrums will heal on their own within a few weeks. Larger holes require a patch or surgical repair. Antibiotic drops may be prescribed if your doctor suspects there is an infection. To learn more about how to protect your eardrum or to schedule an appointment with an ear doctor for treatment, contact Total Hearing Care of Dallas today.