Your ear is divided into three parts, namely the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The outer ear consists of pinna and ear canal, the middle ear is eardrum and ear bones, and the inner ear is where the sound is mechanical energy form is converted into electrical energy and sent to the brain. In this article, we understand what is eardrum rupture and ear drum rupture signs and symptoms.
The eardrum is the partition between the outer and middle ear. The eardrum plays an important role in conducting sound from the outer ear to the brain. The sound waves enter the ear and the vibration of the eardrum transfer the sound to the middle and inner ear and then to the brain, and any damage to the eardrum will result in some degree of deafness. Apart from deafness, as the eardrum seals the middle ear, damage to the eardrum will make your ear more prone to ear discharge and infections.
Nowadays frequently doctors receive cases of patients suffering from loss of hearing or ear discharge. One of the main reasons for this can be due to eardrum rupture.
What is eardrum rupture?
There is a thin layer or membrane that splits the ear canal into the outer and middle canals. A ruptured eardrum is a hole in this membrane that causes hearing loss and also makes you prone to repeated ear infections and ear discharge. The extent of the damage depends on the size of the eardrum hole.
With timely and appropriate treatment, a recent injury to the eardrum can be managed effectively with just medicines. According to data and trials, small and fresh eardrum ruptures can heal within weeks. However, if the condition is left untreated or ignored, it may result in serious consequences including ear bone damage, permanent hearing loss and may even require surgery for management.
How do you know if you have eardrum rupture?
Ear drum Rupture Signs and Symptoms
The most common reasons for eardrum rupture are injury to the ear and severe cold. Sometimes sudden exposure to brief and very loud sounds can also damage your eardrums. If you experience the following symptoms, there are chances you have a hole in the eardrum/drums. It is critical to get it checked by a doctor and move forward with timely treatment.
- Ear block or reduced hearing
- Tinnitus- ringing or buzzing sound from ears when no external source is present
- Whistling sound from ears when you blow nose
- On and off ear pain
- Ear discharge is more common with cold and nose block can be watery sometimes but if bacterial infection sets in then discharge become thick, sticky, and may even be blood-stained.
- Dizziness/nausea- repeated middle and inner ear infections after ear drum rupture can also lead to dizziness and vertigo.
Why did you have an eardrum rupture?
There can be multiple reasons for the ear to rupture. Some of the common reasons for eardrum rupture include:
- Infection in the nose and sinuses causes fluid accumulation behind the eardrum.
- Injury in the ear (example, sports injury, accidents)
- Pressure changes in the ear (example, through flying in an airplane, scuba diving, high altitude driving, direct forceful pressure in the ear)
- Inserting foreign objects in the ear (example, cotton swabs, pen fingernail)
- Extreme loud noise (example- burst of crackers, big machines)
- Ear cleaning from a local roadside and untrained ear cleaner.
How can you prevent damage to the eardrums?
- Get timely treatment for cold and ear infections.
- Never let any unprofessional person clean your ear.
- Never try to clean the ear with sharp thin objects.
- Avoid air travel during cold or nasal infection, if it’s unavoidable visit your ENT doctor as they may prescribe some drug for it.
- Protect your ear from loud explosive noise.
Management of eardrum rupture
As mentioned earlier two most common symptoms of eardrum rupture are hearing loss and ear discharge but if you have any of the above mention symptoms of eardrum rupture then go to your ENT doctor. Your doctor might run some tests on you to confirm eardrum rupture and hearing loss like otoscopy (examination of the ear with camera) audiometry (hearing test).
After confirming your diagnosis your doctor might advise you to go for any of these options to treat this condition-
- Paper patch- sometimes small and recent perforations can just be treated by putting a sterile patch over the perforation. This should be done in a sterile setting and for the faster growing of the eardrum, your doctor may also apply some chemically burning substance to the edges of the perforation.
- Fat grafting- if paper patching fails or can’t be performed then a small piece of fat is taken from your ear lobule and put across the edges of the perforation. the fat is taken by a very small incision which is not even visible.
- Tympanoplasty- in this procedure thin layer of tissue or a piece of cartilage is taken from a nearby area (mostly from behind the ear) and laid over the middle ear.
Home Remedies to heal or to avoid complications of eardrum rupture
Here are some tips you can follow at home to get relief from the pain of eardrum rupture –
- Maintain dry ear to prevent prolonged infection.
- Stuff cotton in the ears gently to prevent water to enter the ear canal when you take a bath.
- Avoid swimming to prevent water penetration in the ears.
- Avoid traveling in airplanes when you have an active nasal infection or till your ears heal.
- Force a yawn, chew gums, swallow repeatedly to stabilize ear pressure during air travel.
- Avoid insertion of foreign objects inside the ears.
- Wear earplugs when exposed to loud noise (for example heavy machines, airport).
- Place warm and dry compress frequently in ears.
- Avoid blowing nose till ears heal to avoid extra pressure on ears.
- Hold your breath while cleaning ears to avoid added pressure on ears.
- Avoid over-the-counter (OTC) eardrops at the pharmacy unless recommended by the doctor.
- Consult the doctor for proper treatment and get yourself treated for any long-term nasal infection.
If you have an ear drum rupture consult an ENT doctor. Always get your problem evaluated and manage it as advised. Timely management can not only protect your hearing but also reduces chances of complication