How to tell if the eardrum is perforated and what to do

Perforated Eardrum

When the eardrum is perforated, the person feels ear pain, itching in the ear, is left with decreased hearing, and may have bleeding from the ear.

Normally a small perforation cures alone, but in larger perforations it may be necessary to use antibiotics, and when that is not enough surgery may be necessary.

Perforated Eardrum
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The eardrum, also called the tympanic membrane, is a thin film that separates the inner ear from the outer ear. It is important for hearing and when it is perforated, the person’s hearing ability decreases.

Symptoms of perforation of the eardrum

The signs and symptoms that may indicate that the membrane of the eardrum is perforated are:

  • Intense ear pain that comes on suddenly;
  • itchy ear
  • Blood coming out of the ear;
  • Yellow discharge from the ear due to the presence of viruses or bacteria;
  • Decreased hearing;
  • Ringing in the ear;
  • There may be dizziness or vertigo.

Generally, perforation of the eardrum heals on its own without the need for treatment and without complications such as total hearing loss, but in any case, it is necessary to go to the aid service so that the doctor can use an otoscope to visualize the internal region of the ear and ensure the diagnosis.

What to do

See your health care provider if you suspect that you have perforated the eardrum, especially if you have discharge or bleeding, and if you have decreased hearing or deafness in one ear.

What causes perforation in the eardrum

The most common cause of perforation in the eardrum is ear infection, also known as otitis media or external.

But this can also happen when objects are introduced into the ear, which especially affects babies and children; by misuse of the swab, in an accident, explosion, diving at sea, or during an airplane trip, for example.

Treatment for perforated eardrum

Small perforations of the eardrum usually return to normal in a few weeks, but it may take up to 2 months for the eardrum to fully regenerate.

During this period it is necessary to wear a piece of cotton wool in your ear every time you bathe, don’t dirty your nose, and don’t go to the beach or swimming pool so as not to run the risk of getting water in your ear because it can infect you.

Washing the ear is totally contraindicated as long as the lesion is not properly healed.

Tympanic perforation does not always require specific treatment, but when there are signs of ear infection or when the membrane ruptures completely, the physician may indicate.

For example, the use of antibiotics such as neomycin or polymyxin with corticoid in the form of droplets to drip into the affected ear, but may also indicate the use of antibiotics in the form of tablets or syrups such as amoxicillin, amoxicillin + clavulanate and chloramphenicol.

When surgery is indicated

Surgery to correct the perforated eardrum is usually indicated when the membrane does not fully regenerate after 2 months of rupture. In that case there should be persistence of the symptoms and the person, returns to the doctor for a new evaluation.

The surgery is also indicated if beyond the perforation the person presents fracture or compromise of the bones that form the ear, being that this is more common when there is an accident or a cranial trauma, for example.

Surgery can be performed under general anesthesia and can be done by placing a graft, which is a piece of skin from another region of the body, and placing it in place of the eardrum.

After surgery the person should rest, use the dressing for 8 days, removing it in the office. Exercise is not recommended in the first 15 days and air travel for 2 months is not recommended.

How long does it take to heal

The perforation of the eardrum can take up to 2 months to heal, and small perforations heal on their own, without the need for treatment.

In case of perforation with signs of infection the doctor may recommend the use of antibiotics to drip into the ear or to take, and within 8 to 10 days the infection can be cured.

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