Perforated eardrum

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Perforated eardrum
Other namesPunctured eardrum
SpecialtyENT surgery

A perforated eardrum is a hole in the eardrum which can occur as a result of otitis media (ear infection), trauma (e.g. by trying to clean the ear with sharp instruments), explosion, loud noise or surgery (accidental creation of a rupture). Flying with a severe cold can also cause perforation due to changes in air pressure and blocked eustachian tubes resulting from the cold. This is especially true on landing.[medical citation needed]


Perforation of the eardrum leads to conductive hearing loss, which is usually temporary. Other symptoms may include tinnitus, earache, vertigo or a discharge of mucus.[1] Nausea and/or vomiting secondary to vertigo may occur.[2]

To diagnose a perforated eardrum, a doctor will examine inside the ear with an instrument called an otoscope. This gives a view of the ear canal and eardrum, allowing confirmation of any rupture/perforation.


The perforation may heal in a few weeks, or may take up to a few months.[3] Some perforations require intervention. This may take the form of a paper patch to promote healing (a simple procedure by an ear, nose and throat specialist), or surgery (tympanoplasty).[4] However, in some cases, the perforation can last several years and will be unable to heal naturally.

Hearing is usually recovered fully, but chronic infection over a long period may lead to permanent hearing loss. Those with more severe ruptures may need to wear an ear plug to prevent water contact with the ear drum.


  1. ^ "Perforated eardrum - Symptoms". National Health Service. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  2. ^ "Ruptured eardrum (perforated eardrum) - Overview".
  3. ^ "Ruptured eardrum (perforated eardrum) - Overview".
  4. ^ "Ruptured eardrum (perforated eardrum) - Overview".

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