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Can Ruptured Eardrum Cause Permanent Hearing Loss

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Ruptured Eardrum Symptoms Treatment And Healing Time

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  • A ruptured or perforated eardrum is a hole or tears in the eardrum .
  • A ruptured or perforated eardrum usually causes pain if the cause is infectious or traumatic however, other causes may not cause pain.
  • There are many signs and symptoms of a ruptured eardrum that may include one or more of the following:
  • Vomiting
  • Middle ear Inflammation or infection
  • Relatively common causes of a ruptured eardrum include infections, car accidents, sports injuries, and putting foreign objects in the ear.
  • A ruptured eardrum is diagnosed routinely by otoscopy , however, your doctor or other healthcare providers may order additional tests.
  • Treatment of eardrum rupture varies from person to person. Some individuals require no treatment, while others may need to have surgical repair the eardrum.
  • It takes several weeks for a ruptured eardrum to heal.
  • Most people will not lose all of their hearing, however, rarely, hearing loss may occur in the damaged ear.
  • While the ruptured eardrum is healing, you should not go swimming or participate in certain physical activities. Ask your doctor when you can start exercising again.
  • You can prevent a ruptured eardrum by treating middle ear infections, avoiding sharp changes in atmospheric pressures, avoiding putting items in the ear, not attempting to remove earwax with cotton swabs or items like paperclips, and by avoiding noise at high levels.
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    What Are The Symptoms Of A Ruptured Eardrum

    Signs that your eardrum has ruptured include:

    • Ear pain, though it may subside quickly
    • Drainage from the ear
    • Tinnitus
    • Vertigo

    There are many potential causes of a ruptured eardrum. These include:

    • Middle ear infection: This type of infection causes fluids to become trapped and build up behind the eardrum. Pressure from this buildup can cause the eardrum to rupture.
    • Barotrauma: This is stress on the eardrum caused by unequal air pressure between the ear and in the environment. If the pressure is severe enough, the eardrum can rupture. This can happen when traveling by air, scuba diving and in the case of a direct blow to the ear.
    • Acoustic trauma: A loud sound like an explosion or gunshot can cause a tear in the eardrum, though this is rare.
    • Foreign objects: Small objects, usually a cotton swab or hairpin, can rupture the eardrum if inserted too deeply.
    • Head trauma: Severe injury, like a skull fracture, can cause dislocation or damage to the middle and inner ear structures, your eardrum included.

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    How Long Does It Take For A Ruptured Eardrum To Heal

    On the average, a ruptured eardrum can heal within about two months. Small ruptures may heal faster. Some very large perforations and occasionally, some smaller ones will not heal. For these problems, an eye, ear, nose and throat doctor may use a graft of the patientâs fat, muscle or other material like a paper patch to close the perforation and allow the eardrum to heal .

    Is Tinnitus A Permanent Condition Or Can It Go Away In Time

    Why Is The Eardrum Perforated?

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    Tinnitus is a very common ear health issue that affects around 15 percent of the population. It is characterized by a ringing sound in the ears, which can range from very mild to severe, constant noise. Some people may also experience clicking, humming or the sound of their own heartbeat. Tinnitus can have a big impact on your everyday life as it makes it difficult to concentrate on work, sleep and engage in conversation. If you are experiencing tinnitus, it is always a good idea to see an ENT doctor and seek treatment.

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    How Does A Ruptured Eardrum Heal

    A doctor can determine the causes of eardrum rupture symptoms by using laboratory tests to evaluate fluid drainage, doing a tuning fork evaluation, performing an audiology exam, conducting an otoscope light exam, or by using a tympanometer to assess changes in air pressure.

    Treatments for an eardrum rupture range from the simple to the more complex. On the simple side, a doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics and/or medicated drops to clear up infections and to prevent further infections. If the rupture does not heal on its own, a doctor can patch the eardrum by placing a medicated patch over the tear to help the membrane grow back together. On the complex side, surgery may be required to repair the eardrum. At home, recovery can be aided by using heat like a warm, dry compress, and over-the-counter pain relievers.

    Loud Noise And Ruptured Eardrum: How To Treat It

    A ruptured eardrum may be alarming and painful, but theres some good news: it often heals itself in a few weeks, and theres nothing special you have to do. But sometimes, medical intervention is necessary, particularly where there is an infection, and antibiotics are needed to clear it up.

    If the tear in a perforated eardrum doesnt heal after a few weeks, perhaps because its too large, you may have to have surgery to repair it. The procedure is carried out under general anaesthetic, and a tiny piece of tissue is taken from behind the ear and used to patch the hole in the eardrum. You may have to stay in hospital overnight, but it may also be possible to go home the same day.

    If youre scheduled to have surgery to repair a perforated eardrum, there are several things you should avoid directly afterwards. They include flying because of the changes in air pressure that could damage the surgeons work and swimming for the same reason. And you should also avoid blowing your nose hard, as it causes an increase in pressure in the ear canal.

    Whether youve had surgery or not, its also generally recommended to keep water out of your ears, so be careful when showering or in the bath. You may be prescribed painkillers, or you can take over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, aspirin or paracetamol to deal with any pain you may be having.

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    How To Prevent Hearing Loss

    It is not preventable in all cases. But there are some steps you can take to protect your hearing:

    • If you work around loud noises, swim often or go to regular concerts, check your hearing regularly
    • Avoid prolonged exposure to loud sounds and music
    • Get help for ear infections. If left untreated, permanent damage to the ear can occur
    • Vaccination for some childhood diseases such as measles, meningitis, rubella, mamps after childbirth
    • Rubella vaccination for teenage girls and expectant mothers before conception
    • Avoid excessive noise in professional cases and recreational activities and raise awareness about its risks. To enact and enforce laws to prevent noise pollution
    • Use some devices that do not allow excess noise to enter the ear, such as ear plugs, soundproof earphones or headphones
    • Avoid drugs that reduce hearing, so do not take drugs without the advice of a specialist.

    When To See A Gp

    What causes hearing loss?

    See a GP if:

    • you think you have a perforated eardrum
    • you have already seen a GP and your symptoms are not any better after a few weeks or you get new symptoms

    Your eardrum will usually heal without treatment, but a GP can check for an infection and talk to you about how you can look after your ear.

    They’ll look into your ear using a small handheld torch with a magnifying lens. The tip of this goes into your ear, but it only goes in a little way and should not hurt.

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    Things You Can Do If You Have A Perforated Eardrum

    Perforated eardrums do not always need to be treated because they often get better by themselves within a few weeks.

    While it heals, the following tips can help you relieve your symptoms and reduce the chances of your ear becoming infected:

    • do not put anything in your ear, such as cotton buds or eardrops
    • do not get water in your ear do not go swimming and be extra careful when showering or washing your hair
    • try not to blow your nose too hard, as this can damage your eardrum as it heals
    • hold a warm flannel against your ear to help reduce any pain
    • take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve pain if you need to

    How Are Perforated Eardrums Treated

    Usually, a perforated eardrum will heal on its own within a few weeks. While the eardrum is healing, your doctor might suggest:

    • taking over-the-counter pain relievers
    • using antibiotics to prevent infections or treat any existing infections

    While your eardrum heals:

    • Don’t use over-the-counter ear drops unless your doctor tells you to. If there is a hole in the eardrum, some kinds of ear drops can get into the middle ear or cochlea and cause problems.
    • Avoid getting water inside the ear canal. Your doctor might recommend that you keep your ear dry during water activities to prevent infection. Gently place a waterproof earplug or cotton ball coated with petroleum jelly in your ear when you shower or take a bath.
    • Don’t clean your ear or forcefully blow your nose. Wait until the tear in your eardrum is completely healed.

    If your eardrum doesn’t heal on its own, an ear-nose-throat specialist may recommend surgery to place an eardrum patch. The doctor puts a paper patch over the hole after applying a special medicine to make the tear heal. Doctors may need to do this procedure a few times until the eardrum is fully healed.

    If the eardrum patch doesn’t work, the ENT specialist might do a surgery known as a tympanoplasty. The surgeon will attach a small patch of your own tissue or use man-made material to cover the hole in your eardrum.

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    What Is A Ruptured Eardrum

    A ruptured eardrum, also known as a perforated tympanic membrane, is a hole or a tear in the eardrum. The eardrum is a thin tissue that separates the ear canal from the middle ear.

    This illustration shows where the eardrum is located along with its adjacent structures , and the Eustachian tube. Moreover, it shows how the ear bones connect the eardrum to other structures such as the semicircular canals, the vestibular nerve, and the cochlea. Note the close relationship of the middle ear to the temporal bone.

    How does a ruptured eardrum affect hearing?

    In the picture above, the eardrum is connected to, and moves the bones in the middle ear that send out signals to the nerves and to other structures. A hole in the eardrum does not allow the normal movement of the eardrum as a response to sounds. Usually, the larger the hole in eardrum means that your hearing will worsen. If the rupture is very large, your eardrum may not translate any sound waves to the bones in the middle ear, which results in hearing loss.

    Causes Of A Perforated Eardrum

    Facts about Conductive Hearing Loss

    A hole in the eardrum can be caused by:

    • an ear infection
    • an injury to the eardrum, such as a blow to your ear or poking an object like a cotton bud deep into your ear
    • changes in pressure, such as while flying or scuba diving
    • a sudden loud noise, such as an explosion

    The following tips may help you avoid damaging your eardrum:

    • see a GP for treatment if you have symptoms of an ear infection for more than 2 or 3 days
    • do not push anything deep into your ears, including your fingers
    • wear suitable ear protection if you’re often exposed to loud noises
    • when flying, try swallowing, yawning, chewing gum or sucking on a boiled sweet during take-off and landing

    Page last reviewed: 11 February 2020 Next review due: 11 February 2023

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    Causes Of Hearing Loss

    There are many causes of hearing loss and a number of ways of explaining or classifying them. This article doesnt include much about causes of hearing loss present at birth it mostly covers hearing loss acquired from childhood onwards.

    A straightforward way of categorising causes of hearing loss is based on the type of hearing loss and how it relates to which part of auditory or hearing system has become damaged or is in some way abnormal. Often, hearing loss is accompanied by tinnitus and sometimes by a balance problem.

    So, this article lists and briefly explains all the main causes of hearing loss affecting one or more of these four parts of the auditory system:

    How Can A Ruptured Eardrum Be Prevented

    • One of the first ways to prevent a ruptured eardrum is to get treatment for middle ear infections as soon as they develop.
    • If you are flying, you should try to keep your ears clear by equalizing pressure using such techniques as yawning, chewing gum or gently attempting to blow your nose while pinching your nostrils and keeping your mouth closed.
    • Keep small items that children may use to put in their ears out of their reach. Moreover, if the child is old enough, you can teach them about the damage that can be done by putting items in their ears.
    • Adults should never attempt to dig out excessive earwax with cotton swabs, paperclips, hairpins and/or other objects that can easily rupture an eardrum.
    • Noise at high levels and sharp changes in atmospheric pressure should be avoided by using protective earplugs or earmuffs.

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    Recovery From Eardrum Rupture

    A ruptured eardrum often heals without any invasive treatment. Most people with ruptured eardrums experience only temporary hearing loss. Even without treatment, your eardrum should heal in a few weeks.

    Youll usually be able to leave the hospital within one to two days of an eardrum surgery. Full recovery, especially after treatment or surgical procedures, typically occurs within eight weeks.

    How Do You Know If You Ruptured Your Eardrum

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    A ruptured drum can happen suddenly in the case of an injury or accident, resulting in sharp pain. Other signs include:

    • Ringing in the ear .
    • A spinning sensation called vertigo, with accompanying nausea or vomiting.
    • Episodic ear infections.
    • Drainage that can be clear, bloody, or puss-like and which is usually smelly.
    • Lingering discomfort in the ear a feeling that somethings just not right.

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    Symptoms Of Blocked Eustachian Tubes

    Symptoms of a blocked eustachian tube include feelings of dizziness, hearing problems, a ringing or popping sensation in the ears, pain in the ears, or ears that feel full. A physician can look at the ears and determine if the eustachian tubes are blocked. It is very easy to open blocked eustachian tubes by closing the mouth, holding the nose with two fingers, and gently blowing to create a ‘pop’ in the ears. Chewing gum and yawning may also help. When the eustachian tubes open, most patients will hear a popping noise that represents the amount of pressure from inside and outside of the ears.

    What Are The Causes Of A Ruptured Eardrum

    • Ear infection within the middle ear
    • Injury to the side of the head as a result of a sudden and forceful strike to the head
    • Sticking objects in the ear that travel too far down in the ear canal and can puncture the eardrum, such as a cotton swab or bobby pin
    • Sudden change in air pressure
    • Loud noise caused by an explosion

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    Treatment Of Hearing Loss

    Treatment is based on the extent of the hearing loss if the cause is known. Conductive hearing loss is temporary and in many cases curable but sensational hearing is permanent. As the ear canal slowly grows, it can lead to hearing loss, which can be treated with drops.


    If there is an infection, it is cured with antibiotics

    Hearing Aid

    This device tries to fix the hearing by multiplying the sound several times and inserting it into the ear at the same time

    Surgical Procedures

    Problems caused by tumors include perforation of the eardrum with chronic fluid accumulation in the ear, which is treated with surgery

    Cochlear Implants

    In serious cases, cochlear implants can be a way. Like hearing aids, it also compensates for damage to the inside of the ear or not working.

    How Do Eardrums Work To Help Us Hear

    Types of Hearing Loss â Stay Tuned Hearing

    Sound, as most people know, is a form of energy that travels in waves. The louder the sound, the greater the amplitude or energy, and so you hear it as a more intense form of sound. As sound waves travel, they spread out and their intensity becomes less, which explains why if youre not so close to the source of noise, you wont hear it as strongly as someone who is right beside it.

    Sound is scientifically measured in , and many everyday sounds are low on the scale and dont pose a risk to our hearing, while others are high and can damage the delicate structures of the ear, including the eardrum. Examples of low-decibel sounds include whispering and breathing you can barely even hear them and loud noise that can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss comes from power tools, lawnmowers, motorbikes, jackhammers and many more everyday items and vehicles.

    Physically at the forefront of our hearing structures, the eardrums function, with its tightly stretched skin, is to vibrate when sound waves hit it. This has the effect of moving small bones in the middle ear that then transfer the vibrations further into the inner ear and onto the brain, where theyre processed as sound. So just like playing a drum thats ripped, if the eardrum is torn, you wont hear as you should as you will not pick sound waves up, and you may experience discomfort from the torn skin.

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