A ruptured eardrum can happen quickly and then the pain may subside. However, if you suspect that you have a perforated eardrum, you will need to see a doctor who can accurately diagnose and treat this problem to prevent further complications or even hearing loss.
What is the Eardrum?
The eardrum, known also as the tympanic membrane, is the thin, cone-shaped membranous tissue separating the outer ear from the middle ear. The eardrum vibrates when sound waves hit it, and provides protection of the middle ear by acting as a barrier.
Once the eardrum is perforated, torn, or ruptured, foreign substances are able to get through this protective barrier and into the middle ear. If the natural security measures of earwax and the tympanic membrane have failed to keep out debris, the ear becomes vulnerable to infection. To prevent permanently damaged hearing, appropriate treatment measures should be undertaken. A skilled otolaryngologist in Allentown will know best what steps to take in the event of an injury of the eardrum.
Symptoms and Causes of a Ruptured Eardrum
A hole in the eardrum may cause pain that is long lasting or subsides quickly. There may be drainage from the ear or you may experience muffled hearing, hearing loss, or tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Vertigo, or a spinning sensation, may also accompany a perforated tympanic membrane.
A number of things can injure the delicate tissue of the eardrum. Otitis media, a middle ear infection, is probably the most common natural cause of an injury to the tympanic membrane. This can cause a rupture of the eardrum when fluid buildup leads to increased pressure on the eardrum. Foreign objects can also rupture the eardrum. Cotton swabs, hairpins, toothpicks, and any other foreign object should never be placed in the ear.
You may have heard of “airplane ear.” Also called barotrauma, this happens most often during air travel or when scuba diving. When the air pressure in the middle ear differs from the air pressure outside the body, a ruptured eardrum can occur. Acoustic trauma refers to a loud sound, such as an explosion, which tears the tympanic membrane. This is why it is important to protect your ears when you expect to be in a loud environment. Severe head trauma may also be injurious to the eardrum.
Accurate Diagnosis and Appropriate Treatment
If you suspect that you have sustained an injury or rupture of the eardrum, a trip to the doctor is in order. A perforated eardrum may heal on its own, but there are things you can do to help heal or prevent infection and preserve your hearing. Sometimes a qualified otolaryngologist will need to perform a minimally invasive procedure to repair the eardrum. Hearing loss from a ruptured eardrum, if treated promptly, will usually return after the eardrum has healed. However, a torn eardrum that is not healing can provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to take up residence. Chronic ear infections resulting from a ruptured eardrum can cause permanent hearing loss. Evaluation by an ear, nose, and throat specialist is recommended if you suspect a perforated eardrum.