8 Signs And Symptoms Of A Ruptured Eardrum

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Symptoms Of A Ruptured Eardrum

Your eardrum is a thin tissue between your middle ear and outer ear. It vibrates when sound waves strike it, helping you hear sounds. If the eardrum ruptures, you will experience symptoms like an earache, a yellow, white, or bloody discharge from your ear, and ringing, buzzing, humming sounds that do not have an outside source. Hearing loss, vertigo, nausea, and itching in the ear can also be signs of a ruptured eardrum. Fever might point to an infection.

“Tone down that music or you’ll burst an eardrum!” How many times have we all heard or belted this out over deafening music? But have you ever wondered what an eardrum rupture would actually feel like?

Your eardrum, which is also known as the tympanic membrane, is a thin tissue shaped like a cone which separates your middle ear from your outer ear. It vibrates when sound waves strike it. These vibrations are then transformed in the inner ear into nerve impulses which travel to the brain, enabling you to hear various sounds. If the eardrum gets perforated, it may not vibrate properly. This in turn could lead to hearing problems. Ear infections, a sudden change in air pressure – for instance, when you’re at a high altitude while flying or at a low altitude while scuba diving, inserting objects like earbuds into your ears, or a blow to your ear can all cause your eardrum to rupture. And yes, though it’s rare, loud noises can also damage your eardrums.1

Here are some of the signs that may indicate a ruptured eardrum:

1. Earache

The first sign of a ruptured eardrum is generally ear pain. This can range in intensity from severe to mild. The pain might also fluctuate, increasing for a while before suddenly reducing.2

2. Discharge From The Ear

If your eardrum is perforated, you may notice a yellow, white, or bloody discharge from your ear. In fact, crusted dry material on your child’s pillow is quite often an indication of ear discharge caused by an injury to the eardrum. Your eardrum could also bleed when it’s ruptured.3

3. Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a condition where you “hear” noises which do not have any outside source. You may hear ringing, roaring, blowing, humming, buzzing, hissing, sizzling, or whistling sounds. These sounds can be loud or soft. Some people may even feel like they’re listening to the sound of water running, air escaping, or musical notes.4

4. Hearing Loss

If your eardrum has ruptured, you may experience hearing loss. This can be complete or partial hearing loss. You may have trouble following conversations or hearing what’s being said in noisy places. Or it may sound like people are mumbling or slurring when they speak.5 If your child seems unresponsive or inattentive to sounds or when you’re saying something to them, this too might point to hearing loss. But the good news is that hearing loss associated with a ruptured eardrum is generally temporary.

5. Itching

You may also experience itching in your ear if your eardrum gets perforated.6

6. Vertigo

Vertigo is the sensation that you, your surroundings, or both are spinning. Remember spinning round and round as a child and the environment whirling all around when you stopped suddenly? This is something similar.7

7. Nausea

Vertigo can sometimes lead to nausea, that queasy feeling in your stomach and the urge to throw up.

8. Fever

You may sometimes experience a temperature of 100.4°F or higher after your eardrum ruptures. This could be an indication that it’s become infected.8

What Can You Do About A Ruptured Eardrum?

See a doctor immediately if you rupture your eardrum. This will help assess the severity and also whether it has been contaminated. Generally, a hole or tear in the eardrum heals on its own but you do need to make sure it remains dry. In some cases, your doctor may recommend antibiotics if contaminants have entered through the tear or if the injury was caused by something dirty. Surgery may be required if the injury is accompanied by significant hearing loss or extreme vertigo or if it fails to heal in a period of 2 months.9 10

References   [ + ]

1, 2, 9.Eardrum Injuries. Nemours Foundation.
3.Ear discharge. National Institutes of Health.
4.Tinnitus. National Institutes of Health.
5.Hearing loss. National Institutes of Health.
6, 8.Perforated eardrum. National Health Service.
7.Dizziness and Vertigo. Merck Manuals.
10.Beers, Mark H., Andrew J. Fletcher, T. V. Jones, R. Porter, M. Berkwitz, and J. L. Kaplan. The Merck manual of medical information. Pocket Books, 2003.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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