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Ear problems


Perforated eardrum

A perforated or burst eardrum is a hole in the eardrum. It’ll usually heal within a few weeks and might not need any treatment.

But see your GP if you think your eardrum has burst, as it can cause problems like ear infections.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a burst eardrum can include:

  • sudden hearing loss
  • earache in your ear
  • itching in your ear
  • tinnitus – noises like ringing or buzzing in your ear
  • fluid leaking from your ear
  • a high temperature.

It’s important not to get water or any other liquid in your ear while your eardrum is burst, as this can cause an infection in the middle ear.

Causes

A perforated eardrum can be caused by:

  • serious ear infections, such as untreated otitis media
  • injury to the eardrum, caused by, for example, a severe blow to the ear or poking things in your ear
  • sudden loud noise, such as an explosion, accompanied by a pressure change
  • rapid changes in air pressure, such as when changing altitude in an aeroplane, or when scuba diving.

Treatment

A perforated eardrum normally heals on its own within two months.

For more serious damage, usually following repeated episodes of otitis media, you might need an operation called a myringoplasty, where a tissue graft is used to seal up the hole.

See the NHS website to find out when to see a GP and what you can do to reduce the chances of your ear becoming infected while your eardrum heals.