An eardrum rupture can cause sudden, sharp pain and dizziness for audiology patients in Concord and Walnut Creek. Ruptures may even result in a temporary loss of hearing. Ruptured eardrums usually heal on their own, but if you experience one, it’s a good idea to head to an ear doctor who will help make sure you don’t experience an infection or other side effect.
Symptoms of an Eardrum Perforation
Doctors refer to the eardrum as the tympanic membrane. This thin tissue membrane divides the middle ear from the ear canal.
When this tissue develops a hole or tear, it’s known as a ruptured eardrum. Alternatively, it may be called a perforated eardrum, or if your physician is really into medical jargon, a tympanic membrane perforation.
Symptoms will vary depending on the size of the tear or hole. If you experience a ruptured eardrum, you may notice any of the following:
- Severe ear pain. This can go away as quickly as it developed.
- Hearing loss in the affected ear.
- Drainage from the ear. This may sometimes be tinged with blood.
- A ringing in the ear known as tinnitus.
- A plugged-up sensation in the ear.
- Dizziness or loss of balance.
- Whistling in the ear. This may be most noticeable when you are blowing your nose.
Perforated eardrums aren’t all that unusual in Concord. There are a number of possible causes. Some of the most common ones include:
Common causes of a ruptured eardrum
- Ear infection. When fluid collects behind the eardrum, pressure can build up and cause a tear.
- Ear trauma. A blow to the side of the head or ear can cause a hole in the thin tissue of the eardrum.
- Sticking an object into the ear. Inserting objects in the ear is unsanitary and can lead to a hole or perforation in the tissue. Refrain from putting anything in your ear including cotton swabs, safety pins, pencils and fingers.
- Loud noise. Loud noise can rupture the thin membrane of the eardrum, causing ringing in the ears or hearing loss. This might persist for several hours—or even days—following exposure. Common causes include music, firecrackers and gunshots. Even noisy toys can hurt your kids’ ears!
- Barotrauma. A sudden change in pressure is called barotrauma; it’s a condition scuba divers and airline travelers are all too familiar with. Barotrauma makes it difficult for the Eustachian tube to regulate pressure between the inner and outer ears; this can result in a vacuum effect, where the eardrum is stretched and pulled enough to create a perforation.
Treating an Eardrum Rupture
Ruptured eardrums will eventually close up on their own, but during the healing process, you are susceptible to infection. Therefore, it’s recommended you schedule an appointment with an ear, nose and throat doctor in Concord or Walnut Creek if you suspect you have a perforated eardrum.
You can treat pain and reduce swelling with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. Your doctor will give you antibiotics or eardrops if you’ve developed an infection. In severe cases where the hole or tear is too large to heal on its own, a surgical procedure called a tympanoplasty can help correct the rupture.
If you suspect you’ve experienced an eardrum rupture, schedule an appointment with a Bay Area hearing specialist as soon as possible.
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