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Ruptured eardrum symptoms and causes

Ruptured eardrum is a rupture or hole in the eardrum which occurs for numerous different reasons, usually as a result of an infection or trauma. A ruptured eardrum can usually affect the patient's hearing capacity and make the middle ear more vulnerable to infections and other injuries. This condition isn’t a severe one, and it usually heals in a couple of weeks without treatment. However, sometimes the patient is advised to undergo a treatment and increase the rate at which the ruptured eardrums heal. In more severe cases, usually after a serious injury, patient will need to undergo a surgical repair for a ruptured eardrum.

What is an eardrum?

Eardrum is also known under the name of tympanic membrane, as it is a membrane that separates the external ear from the middle ear and transmits the sound from the air to the ossciles inside the middle ear. The eardrum has two primary functions. The primary role of an eardrum is to vibrate and transfer the sound waves. Another role is protective, as the eardrum acts like a barrier, protecting the middle ear from water, bacteria and foreign objects. Any kind of perforation or rupture on the membrane can lead to conductive hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss occurs when there are problems conducting the soundwaves anywhere on the route through the outer ear, eardrum, middle ear or inner ear.

Symptoms of the ruptured eardrum

Rupture in the eardrum usually manifests as a sharp and unexpected ear pain that lasts just for a moment and goes away very quickly. Patient may complain about hearing loss or ringing in the ear. In some cases, there is drainage from the ear, which can look differently: clear, pus-filled or even bloody. Some patients may experience a spinning sensation and nausea or vomiting.

Causes of the ruptured eardrum

Ruptured eardrum often occurs as a result of ear infection in the middle ear. The infection takes place because of the accumulation of fluids. The fluids can make pressure to the membrane and cause a rupture.
Another common cause of the ruptured eardrum is from the air pressure. Sometimes the air pressure in the middle ear is out of balance with the pressure outside of the ear. This usually happens in airplanes or during scuba diving. The sudden change in pressure causes ruptures in the eardrum.
Loud sounds, various small foreign objects in the ear or severe head trauma, can also cause damage to the inner ear structures. Most commonly, the ear trauma is caused by trying to clean the ear with sharp instrument.

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