The ear drum is a rather delicate structure that divides the outer ear from the middle ear. It can easily perforate due to many causes.
A ruptured eardrum subsequently leads to ipsilateral hearing loss and also makes the inner ear more susceptible to infections. Fortunately, the ruptured organ soon heals on its own, without additional treatments. In some people doctors may need to promote healing and perform surgical repair of the ruptured eardrum.
Ruptured Eardrum Causes
One of common causes of perforated eardrum is infection of the middle ear (otitis media). Otitis media is characterized by fluid build-up inside the middle ear. Increased pressure associated with such fluid accumulation is an initiator of eardrum perforation.
Another cause of eardrum perforation is barotrauma. This is an injury induced by stress exertion on the eardrum when pressure in the outer ear and pressure inside the middle ear are not in proper balance. This trauma is also known under the name airplane ear because pressure imbalance usually affects air travelers. Scuba diving or a direct blow to the ear are two more ways to change the pressure in the outer ear and induce eardrum perforation.
Eardrum perforation also occurs due to acoustic trauma (a loud sound or blast), presence of foreign objects in the ear and severe head trauma.
Ruptured Eardrum Clinical Characteristics
Individuals who have suffered eardrum rupture complain about ear pain and hearing loss. Sometimes, if there is infection in the middle ear, after eardrum rupture one may notice drainage of different characteristics from the affected ear. There may be clear fluid, pus or even blood draining from the ear.
Additional symptoms of eardrum perforation include tinnitus (ringing in the ear), vertigo, nausea and vomiting.
Ruptured Eardrum Treatment
In majority of cases the eardrum completely heals within a few weeks without additional treatments. Only in case the hole in the eardrum cannot close and heal spontaneously one must undergo corrective surgery.
Eardrum patch is a paper patch ENT specialists seal a perforated eardrum with. The edges of the perforated eardrum are first covered with a specific chemical and then the hole gets covered with a patch. One may need to undergo repeated eardrum patch procedures until the hole completely closes.
If eardrum patch fails to close ruptured eardrum, there is one more treatment option-surgery. The surgical procedure performed in case of ruptured eardrum is called tympanoplasty. The hole gets covered with a tiny patch of patient's own tissue. This is a routine procedure performed on an outpatient basis.