Eardrum (Tympanic membrane) is a thin drum-like tissue that separates your ear canal from your middle ear.The ear drum transmits sounds from the surrounding to the middle ear.


Eardrum illnesses and hazards

The eardrum is a very delicate tissue, and it can get damaged in several ways:

  • Infections of the middle ear – when infected, the ear fills up with fluid which pressures the eardrum. Though the ear drum is elastic, constant pressure will cause it to get harder and even perforated (like a balloon bursting). A ruptured ear drum can cause a discharge (pus) from the ear.
  • A direct impact to the ear, like a direct hit or head trauma.
  • Sudden loud noises – One instance is an explosion; the shock and sound waves can perforate the eardrum. This can lead to severe hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
  • Barotrauma which occurs when descending in an aircraft. Due to the altitude changes, pain in the ear is common. Perforated eardrums, however, only happen in extreme and rare cases.
  • Putting foreign objects into the ear e.g. ear buds, Q-tips and others.

Rupture of the eardrum can lead to conductive hearing loss and make your middle ear vulnerable to infections or other injury.
If there is too much fluid pressure, the eardrum may actually burst.eardrum

The most common ear drum damage is a perforated ear drum. A perforated eardrum is a tear in the eardrum. It can affect hearing to varying degrees, depending upon the size and location of the perforations (if the bones in the middle ear are damaged too, the hearing loss would be greater.)
The perforation also puts you at a greater risk of developing an ear infection because the eardrum acts as a barrier to bacteria and other germs that may get into the middle ear.


A ruptured or perforated ear drum will cause several symptoms. If you suffered head trauma, ear infections or just see one or more of the following symptoms, you should consult your GP. Main symptoms for a ruptured ear drum:
• Drainage from the ear (green or yellow fluid).
• Buzzing in the ear.
• Earache.
• Hearing loss (may be only partial) or a change in hearing ability.
• Dizziness (in more severe cases).


A perforated eardrum will usually heal by itself within 6-8 weeks. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics if there is an infection or risk of infection developing in the middle ear whilst the eardrum is healing.
Pain relief may be achieved by providing warmth to the ear, or consuming painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

It is best to avoid water getting into the ear during the healing process. In unavoidable situations e.g. while showering or shampooing, place cotton balls in the ear

Occasionally, a perforated eardrum gets infected and needs antibiotics. These may be oral (pills), or as eardrops.

There are options to fix a perforated drum that does not heal by itself. Some methods include placing some chemicals next to the torn part of the drum to encourage healing, or an operation called tympanoplasty to repair the eardrum (Tympanoplasty is the surgical operation performed for the reconstruction of the eardrum and/or the small bones in the middle ear).

When to Contact a Medical Professional                                noise
If you suspect that you have a ruptured ear drum, contact a doctor. Some of the following are indicators that you may require medical attention:

• Experience dizziness.
• Feel ill.
• Have a fever, hearing loss, or pain/loud ringing in your ear.
• Have any symptoms that last for months after treatment.

Don’t neglect ear pain, especially if it persists. Small symptoms may be caused by larger problems. Listen to your body!

Tagged with:
Questions or opinions? Let us know!