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What is the eardrum?

The eardrum is a thin tissue which is in between the middle andouter ear and when it gets perforated it means that it has a tear or a hole.Perforated eardrum usually leads to earache and impaired hearing. Among manyother causes of a perforated eardrum the most common on is otitis media or aninfection of the middle ear. In most cases a perforated eardrum heals on itsown but certain severe cases still may require a surgery.

The ear consists of three main parts, the inner ear, themiddle ear and the outer ear. The inner ear consists of cochlea and theauditory nerve. Cochlea is a coiled tube with two chambers filled with fluidwhile the auditory nerve serves a sound transmitter to the brain. The middleair is filled with air and it is a cavity which is also connected to the throatand the nose by the Eustachian tube. It contains a structure of small boneswhich are medically referred to as ossicles. The outer ear consists of thevisible protuberant part the ear canal and the eardrum.

Soundwaves get to the eardrum through the ear canal and theymake the membrane vibrate. The vibrations are passed further on by the ossicleslocated in the middle ear. The ossicles’ main function is to amplify thereceived vibrations and pass them further towards the inner ear. The cochlea inthe inner ear contains hair cells which respond very delicately to thevibrations that have been received from the middle ear. The auditory nerve then transmits theelectrical signal generated from the movement of the hair cells to the brain.

Symptoms of a perforated eardrum

Persons who have a perforated eardrum usually suffer fromimpaired hearing. The extent and the severity of the hearing loss largely dependon the size of the hole in the eardrum. The bigger the hole the greater thehearing loss it will cause. Perforated eardrum can also be the cause of earacheand discomfort. It is not uncommon for a person whose eardrum is perforated toexperience mucus discharge from the ear as well as ringing in the ears.

A perforated eardrum also poses a risk of infection. Eardrum protects the middle ear from bacteriaand germs that may cause infections, so when it gets perforated, certain typesof infection may occur. Symptoms of the middle ear infection includes severeaearache fever and a slight hearing loss. If it occurs in children additionalsymptoms may includes lethargy and vomiting. The doctor diagnoses a perforated eardrumby examining it with an auriscope.

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