How to manage a ruptured eardrum

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A ruptured eardrum is defined as a tear or hole in the skin tissue lining the ear canal and middle ear. The injury is considered common among children.

What are the signs?

An individual with a broken eardrum is frequently due to a middle ear infection. Once infection fluid builds up at the rear part of the eardrum, it triggers discomfort and pain. The accumulation of fluid produces a small-sized tear in the eardrum which enables fluid to seep from the ear looking like pus. Bleeding might also occur.

A ruptured eardrum might also cause brief hearing loss due to the perforation in the eardrum along with the drainage.

What are the causes?

ruptured eardrum
A ruptured eardrum might also cause brief hearing loss due to the perforation in the eardrum along with the drainage.

Aside from an ear infection in the middle ear, other possible causes of a ruptured eardrum include:

  • Injury to the side of the head from abrupt and forceful blows to the head
  • Insertion of objects into the ear that can puncture the eardrums such as a cotton swab
  • Abrupt changes in the air pressure
  • Exposure to loud noises from an explosion
  • Skull fracture


Oral drugs or ear drops might be prescribed by the doctor. Generally, the healing of the eardrum occurs within 2 months. In most cases, hearing loss is only brief. Even though rare, some of the complications that might arise include long-term vertigo, hearing loss, dizziness or infection that spreads in the ear.

  • The ear should be kept dry and avoid swimming.
  • When taking a shower or bath, the affected ear must be covered.
  • If the nose is being blown, do not blow forcefully since the pressure triggers pain and discomfort in the ears.
  • Protect the ears from exposure to cold air.

In case the eardrum does not recuperate after 2 months of monitoring, the doctor might perform myringoplasty to aid with the healing.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a ruptured eardrum is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed, register for a first aid and CPR course with Red Deer First Aid.

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