Ruptured Eardrums: What Are They?

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A ruptured eardrum, otherwise known as a perforated tympanic membrane, is a tear or hole in the delicate tissue that makes up the eardrum. Ouch! There are many ways to rupture an eardrum and some are preventable. For instance, if you haven’t heard us say it before, we’ll say it again: ditch those cotton swabs! They push the wax in farther down your ear canal and may perforate the eardrum if pushed too hard. Scientists say not to put anything in your ear canal smaller than your elbow (there’s an image).

Ruptured eardrums do heal within a few weeks, and most people do not require surgery or a patch to heal.

Causes of ruptured eardrums according to the Mayo Clinic include:

  • Middle ear infection, otherwise known as otitis media. When you have a middle ear infection, fluid may build up in the middle ear and put pressure on the tympanic membrane. The buildup of fluid can cause the eardrum to rupture.
  • Barotrauma occurs when the air pressure in your middle ear and the air pressure outside your middle ear are out of balance. Barotrauma most often occurs when traveling by air or scuba diving.
  • Loud noises, or acoustic trauma. Although it’s extremely rare, a loud blast can rupture an eardrum.
  • Cotton swabs or hairpins. As stated above, these items can be dangerous and should be avoided. If pushed too far, they can rupture the eardrum easily.
  • Severe head trauma. Severe trauma to the head can cause damage to the eardrum. 

 

 

Now you know all about ruptured eardrums. Most importantly, you know to keep those cotton swabs out of your ears! For more information, click here

 

 

 

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