While some are born with a perforated eardrum, in some people it happens in the course of their lifetime, due to various reasons like injuries or trauma or some infections or diseases. Whatever be the cause, the consequences of a ruptured eardrum are greater. The most serious effect of the condition is hearing loss. It might also make the internal and delicate parts of your ears vulnerable to various infections or injuries.

 

What is an Eardrum?

In human beings and other tetrapods (four-limbed animals), an eardrum, also known as the tympanic membrane, is a thin, cone-shaped membrane that separates the ear canal of the outer ear from the middle ear. The sound waves received by the outer ear strike against the eardrum and cause it to vibrate.

The function of the eardrum is to transmit the sound waves from the external ear to the ear ossicles in the middle ear. The middle ear then passes them over to the fluid-filled cochlea in the inner ear, which sends them to the brain after converting them into electrical impulses.

We have already covered a separate blog on the hearing mechanism of human beings, consider going through it: https://hearingplus.in/ourblog/How-Do-We-Hear-An-Insight-into-Our-Hearing-Mechanism/

 

What is an Eardrum Rupture?

A ruptured or perforated eardrum is a hole or a tear in the tympanic membrane. Since the vibrations that are generated when sound waves enter our ears, and which are carried over to the ear ossicles of the middle ear, any tear or hole in the eardrum would not cause it to vibrate. This can hamper the transmission of the sound waves from the ear canal of the outer ear to the middle and inner ears respectively. As these vibrations are necessary for hearing, any damage caused to the tympanic membrane might cause hearing problems.

Although it is normally healed within a few days, in rare cases, however, a perforated eardrum can cause permanent hearing loss. In such a case, one must not delay in getting a proper hearing loss treatment such as hearing aids.

 

The Common Symptoms

  • Pain, which in some cases might be severe

  • Bleeding, especially if the rupture is caused by middle ear infections

  • Watery, bloody or pus-like fluid drainage from the affected ear

  • Temporary hearing loss

  • Tinnitus or hearing a constant ringing, buzzing or other such sounds in the affected ear even if there is no external sound present

  • Dizziness or spinning sensation (vertigo)

  • Nausea or vomiting that might result from vertigo

Consult a professional audiologist immediately without delay if you notice these symptoms. Also, develop the habit of getting your ears tested from time-to-time.

 

What are the Causes?

Here are some common causes of eardrum rupture -

  • Ear infections, especially in children or people with colds or flu

  • Middle ear infections like Otitis Media

  • Exposure to extremely loud noises or blasts

  • Severe head trauma or injury

  • Barotrauma - a condition when your ears fail to balance the atmospheric pressure with that of your ears. Results due to pressure changes, such as at higher altitudes or while scuba diving

  • If a foreign object gets inside your ear

  • Injury or trauma to the ear or any side of the head

 

What are the Consequences?

A ruptured eardrum might lead to -

  • Hearing loss

  • Ear infections like Otitis Media

  • Middle ear cyst

  • Ear injuries

 

What is the Solution?

A ruptured eardrum usually gets healed by itself within a few weeks. In certain cases, however, it needs to be repaired surgically.

Seek help immediately because you never know what might be the extent of the damage. If the condition is severe it might lead to hearing loss. And no hearing loss treatment can bring back your natural hearing ability if it is a permanent hearing loss.

A prolonged untreated hearing loss would come along with other consequences like depression and other emotional disbalances. Hearing aids might help in such cases to treat any loss of hearing, but you mustn’t wait that long!