Your eardrum is a small circular membrane covered in a thick layer of skin, which is located between the outer and middle ear. A perforated eardrum is a hole or a tear in your eardrum.
- Ear infection
- Sudden changes in air pressure
- Putting objects deep in your ear, such as cotton buds
- Chronic disease of the middle ear (cholesteatoma)
- A fracture to the skull, or tumor near the ear
- Earache, or discomfort
- Discharge of liquid or pus from your ear
- Partial loss of hearing
- Buzzing, ringing or other noises in your ear
If a perforated eardrum is caused by another condition, you may get other symptoms associated with that condition. For example, symptoms of ear infection can include a sore throat, and a high temperature.
A perforated eardrum should heal by itself within one to two months. In the meantime, you can relieve any pain by taking painkillers such as paracetamol. Warming your ear with a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel may also relieve any discomfort.
While your ear is healing, you should avoid getting water inside it. Wear a shower cap over your ears or cotton balls in the affected ear while you shower, and don't swim or put your head underwater.
- Antibiotics: If a perforated eardrum is caused by an infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics. Once the infection is treated, the perforation can heal.
- Surgery: You should get your doctor to check your ear after a few weeks to make sure it is healing. If it doesn't heal on its own, surgery may be required. This is called a myringoplasty.