Perforated Eardrum - Dream Health

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Tuesday 17 February 2015

Perforated Eardrum

Perforated Eardrum – A Hole/Tear in the Eardrum

Perforated eardrum or ruptured eardrum or a tympanic membrane perforation,is a hole in the eardrum that could lead to complications like a middle ear infection and hearing loss. A ruptured eardrum is a tear in the thin membrane which separates the outer ear from the inner ear which is made up of tissues resembling skin. Sometimes it would need surgery to repair the damage to the eardrum.

It can be quite uncomfortable though it heals on its own without much treatment within two months. The functions of the eardrum is of two types wherein it senses vibrating sound waves and converts the vibration into nerve impulses conveying the sound to the brain and protects the middle ear from bacteria, water and other foreign objects.

The middle ear is normally sterile though when the eardrum tends to get ruptured, bacteria could get in the middle ear causing infections known as otitis medi. If one is suffering from perforated eardrum, their hearing could be affected and they will experience earache and any hearing loss could be temporary. If the person experiences pain and discomfort in the ear for more than a couple of days, a visit to the physician should be done for timely treatment.

Causes of Rupture

Several causes could be responsible for eardrum rupture one being the most common cause is an ear infection. This occurs when the middle ear gets infected and pressure builds up pushing against the eardrum which when it tends to be great, causes the eardrum to perforate. When this occurs, one may notice that the pain and pressure experienced earlier suddenly tends to stop and pus drains from the ear.

Another cause of ruptured eardrum could be the result of poking the eardrum with a foreign object like a cotton-tipped swab or a bobby pin used to clean the wax out of the ear canal. Children at times tend to puncture the own eardrum by putting objects like small toy or stick in their ear. Some eardrum ruptures could be the result of what is known as barotrauma which happens when the pressure in the ear and the pressure outside the ear in not balanced.

For instance, when the airplane changes altitude resulting in the air pressure in the cabin tends to drop or rise. Scuba divers also face this problem when there is a rise or fall change in pressure. Besides this, a head injury or a slap near the ear could cause the eardrum to rupture or an acoustic trauma caused by sudden loud sound, like an explosion or a sudden blast of loud music.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

The symptoms of ruptured eardrum could include drainage from the ear which may be bloody, clear or resembles pus, sudden sharp ear pain or sudden decrease in ear pain, ear noise or buzzing sound, hearing loss which may be partial or complete in the affected ear, facial weakness or dizziness and episodic ear infection.For diagnosing a ruptured eardrum the doctor will do an otoscopic examination wherein an otoscope, an instrument with a light is used to look in the ear giving the clear view of the interior of the ear.

At times there may be too much wax or drainage which may not be possible for the doctor to view the eardrum. In such a situation, he may have to clean the ear canal or prescribe eardrop to clear the same. At other times the doctor may use a rubber bulb attached to the otoscope to blow a puff of air in the ear and if the eardrum is not ruptured, it will move when the air hits it and if ruptured, it will not move.

The doctor would also test the hearing to find out how much hearing has been affected due to the ruptured eardrum by using a tuning fork to test it. An audiology test may also be conducted which is a series of tone one listens to with the headphones to determine the level of hearing.

Treating Ruptured Eardrum

Several cases of ruptured eardrum could be temporary and normal hearing returns back after the eardrum gets healed. There is no specific treatment for ruptured eardrum and mostly gets healed within a few months. Antibiotic could be prescribed which could be in oral or in the form of eardrops in order to prevent an ear infection or to treat the prevailing infection.

If the eardrum is slow in healing, the doctor could put a patch on the eardrum where in some cases a surgery would be needed to repair the ruptured eardrum. This is done through a procedure which could take a couple of hours wherein the doctor would attach a piece of one’s own tissue to the eardrum to rebuild the eardrum.

This surgery is used typically for large perforations, for perforations that would involve the edges of the eardrum or ruptured eardrum caused by ear infection. Thereafter care should be taken to ensure that the ear is kept dry in order to help in the healing process.

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