Ruptured eardrum or perforated eardrum, is an injury in the eardrum or typanic membrane. This injury may come as a small hole or tear. The tympanic membrane is a thin tissue that divides your middle ear and outer ear canal. This membrane enables you to hear by vibrating the sound waves that enter your ear. A ruptured eardrum may cause problems with hearing.

Causes of  a ruptured eardrum

  • Infection
    • Middle ear infection (otitis media)- This infection is caused by the accumulation of fluids in your middle ear. Pressure from these fluids can cause the eardrum to rupture.
  • Pressure Changes- The difference between the air pressure in the middle ear and in the environment can bring stress to the ear. Severe pressure can rupture the ear.

Some of the activities that may cause pressure changes in the ear are:

  • Scuba diving
  • Flying in an airplane
  • Driving or climbing at high altitudes
  • Shock waves
  • Direct, forceful impact to the ear
  • Injury or Trauma
    • Acoustic trauma- extremely loud noises can damage the ear.
    • Accidents- accidents can cause the ear to rupture. Examples are getting hit in the ear, sustaining an injury during sports, falling on your ear, car accidents.
  • Foreign Objects- Small objects, such as a cotton swab or hairpin, can puncture or tear the eardrum.

A person with ruptured eardrum may experience symptoms such as:

  • Ear pain that may subside quickly
  • Clear, pus-filled or bloody drainage from your ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing in your ear (tinnitus)
  • Spinning sensation (vertigo)
  • Nausea or vomiting that can result from vertigo


You doctor will examine your ear and review your symptoms. He or she may also ask for your medical history to know what are the possible reason for your ear to be ruptured.

Diagnostic tests may be composed of:

  • Fluid Sample- This tests enables your doctor to know if ear infection has caused your ruptured eardrum.
  • Otoscope Exam- The doctor uses a specialized device with a light to look into your ear canal.
  • Audiology Exam- This test examines the ear’s hearing range and eardrum capacity.
  • Tympanometry- A device called tympanometer is inserted in your ear to test your eardrum’s response to pressure changes.



Treatments for ruptured eardrum may include:

  • Patching – This method involves placing a medicated paper patch over the tear in the membrane.
  • Antibiotics- Antibiotic drugs are used to eliminate or prevent infection.
  • Surgery- Tympanoplasty is the surgical procedure in which the surgeon takes tissue from another area of your body and patches it onto the hole in your eardrum.



To prevent your ears from being ruptured, you must:

  • Treat any middle ear infections
  • Protect your ears during flight
  • Keep your ears free of foreign objects
  • Avoid extreme noises

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