Patient's Complete Guide to Ear Drum Rupture
Overview of Ear Drum Rupture
Eardrum rupture also known as (tabal gosh/طبل گوش) is a small hole in the thin membrane which forms a barrier line or separation line between the outer and inner ear. The membrane is made up of tissues similar to the skin known as the tympanic membrane. A ruptured eardrum is also termed the perforated eardrum.
The eardrum has two main functions. Firstly, it converts the vibrating sounds into nerve impulses that are directly transferred to the brain. Secondly, it acts as a barrier of the middle ear to keep away bacteria, any foreign particles, and water from the ear.
The middle ear is a sterile part of the ear. As the eardrum ruptures, bacteria or any foreign particle can easily enter into the middle ear to cause an infection known as otitis media.
In a few cases, it may cause permanent hearing loss.
Prevalence of Eardrum Rupture
It is most prevalent in children because of their sensitive tissues and narrow ear canals. Any kind of sharp-pointed edges objects such as pencils, hairpin can rupture their eardrum especially if it goes inside the ear canal.
Most ear infections are the main cause of eardrum rupture in children, adults or older people. But the children are highly affected, about 5 out of 6 may have a risk of ear infections when they turn 3 years old.
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Drum Rupture
People with the ruptured eardrum don't feel as much discomfort in the ear until it expands. When they hear, the air is coming out of the ear after blowing their nose with adequate pressure. It causes the air to rise up and fill the middle ear spaces in the ear. Other symptoms of a ruptured eardrum are:
- Hearing loss
- Clear, thick, yellowish, or bloody ear discharge
- Feeling pain in the ear
- Ringing or buzzing sounds in the ear
Causes of Ear Drum Rupture
Several causes are responsible for eardrum rupture, but the most common is an ear infection. It affects when bacteria attack the middle ear and pressure builds up that pushes against the eardrum. If the pressure exertion increases more then it will force the eardrum to perforate. As it prolongs, pain and pressure will stop and pus drains from the ear.
Other primary causes are:
- Stop poking the eardrum with external objects like a cotton-tipped swab or a bobby pin.
- Trying to clean the wax out of the ear canal from foreign objects like a bobby pin.
- Keep the small toys like sticks away from the children, otherwise, it may damage their ears.
Risk Factors of Ear Drum Rupture
Different risk factors contribute to eardrum rupture, such as:
- Exposure to loud noises
- Having ear surgery
- Insertion of foreign objects
- When you have an ear infection
- Flying (rapid pressure)
Health Complications of Eardrum Rupture
Get medical help or eardrum rupture can result in:
- Middle Ear Infection – Allow Bacteria to enter your ear
- Loss of Hearing – A hole in your eardrum causes temporary hearing loss but it is reversed after the healing process.
- Middle Ear Cyst – An abnormal growth of skin (noncancerous) that occurs in the middle ear.
Mostly, a ruptured eardrum recovers naturally within a few weeks. But in some cases, it will undergo months until the ENT specialist assures the patients of proper healing.
Following are some protective measures to prevent eardrum rupture:
- Keep Your Ear Dry: During showering, put the waterproof silicone earplug or cotton ball rubbed with petroleum jelly in the ear to keep the water away.
- Refrain From Cleaning Your Ears: Take some time for complete recovery and avoid being harsh on your ears while cleaning.
- Avoid Blowing Your Nose: It will cause pressure that may damage the eardrum.
An ENT specialist can often diagnose the ruptured (perforated) eardrum visually with the help of a lighted instrument named an otoscope or microscope.
An ENT specialist will recommend other tests to determine the main cause of the ear symptoms or check the hearing loss.
These laboratory tests include:
- Laboratory Culture Tests: If an individual is experiencing any leakage of thick yellowish or bloody discharge from the ear the doctor would recommend taking the culture test for diagnosing the bacterial infection in the middle ear.
- Tuning Fork Evaluation: This test is conducted to check the hearing sense. The tuning fork consists of two-pronged metal instruments that generate a sound when struck. It is a simple test for hearing loss.
- Tympanometry: A tympanometer attached with a device inserted into your ear canal to measure the response of the eardrum against slight changes in air pressure. It helps to indicate a perforated eardrum.
- Audiology Exam: It is a calibrated test that measures how much a person hears the sound at different pitches and volumes via a soundproof booth.
Treatment of Ear Drum Rupture | When to Consult a Doctor
There are various treatment options available for the ruptured ear depending upon the severity.
Home Remedies of Eardrum Rupture
The best way to ease the pain of an eardrum rupture is by giving warm compression to the ear and using oral pain relievers at home.
A dry, warm compression to the ear will help to relieve the pressure generation in the ear. This compression is carried out several times a day. This method is beneficial for reducing pain. An individual can use this method with other oral over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.
(Note: Don’t use any over-the-counter ear drops without a doctor's consultation. Using these drops on the ruptured eardrum may enter deep into the ear and cause further problems)
Medical Treatments of Ruptured Eardrums
Most of the time ruptured eardrum treatment is preceded by adding the antibiotic ear drops in the ear hole for a few weeks. But if it doesn't heal the holes inside the ear, then ent specialist would opt for treatment from the following options.
- Eardrum Patch: The ENT specialist will seal the torn part in the eardrum from the paper patches. By applying the patches on the hole and the edges of the hole, it increases the eardrum healing abruptly. It will be repeated more than once for complete hole closure.
- Surgery: If a patch procedure is unable to do proper healing then ENT doctors recommend surgery. The most common surgical procedure is called tympanoplasty. It is an outpatient surgery in which a person may go home on that day unless anaesthesia requires a longer time.