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Ruptured Eardrum – Understanding Symptoms and Treatment

A ruptured eardrum, also known as a perforated eardrum or tympanic membrane perforation, occurs when there is a hole or tear in the thin membrane that separates the ear canal from the middle ear. This membrane, known as the tympanic membrane, plays a crucial role in transmitting sound vibrations from the outer ear to the middle ear.

Causes:

  1. Infection: Middle ear infections (otitis media) can cause the accumulation of fluid in the middle ear, leading to increased pressure and potential rupture of the eardrum.
  2. Barotrauma: Changes in air pressure, such as during air travel or scuba diving, can cause the eardrum to rupture.
  3. Trauma: Direct injury to the ear, such as a blow to the ear or insertion of a foreign object, can result in a ruptured eardrum.
  4. Acoustic trauma: Exposure to extremely loud noises, such as explosions or loud music, can cause damage to the eardrum.

Symptoms:

  1. Ear pain: Ruptured eardrums can be accompanied by sharp pain in the affected ear.
  2. Hearing loss: The extent of hearing loss depends on the size and location of the rupture.
  3. Ear drainage: Fluid or pus may drain from the ear, which can be clear, bloody, or contain pus.
  4. Tinnitus: Some people may experience ringing or buzzing sounds in the affected ear.
  5. Vertigo or dizziness: In some cases, a ruptured eardrum can cause balance problems.

Treatment:

  1. Observation: In many cases, small ruptures may heal on their own without medical intervention. The individual may need to keep the ear dry and avoid inserting objects into the ear.
  2. Medication: Antibiotics may be prescribed if the rupture is associated with an infection. Pain relievers may also be recommended to manage pain.
  3. Ear drops: These may be prescribed to prevent infection and promote healing.
  4. Surgical repair: If the rupture is large or doesn’t heal on its own, surgical intervention may be necessary. This procedure is known as tympanoplasty, and it involves repairing the eardrum using a graft from the individual’s tissue.

It’s essential to seek medical attention if you suspect a ruptured eardrum, as prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help prevent complications and promote healing. Avoid inserting anything into the ear canal, including cotton swabs, as this can further damage the eardrum. If there is persistent pain, drainage, or hearing loss, consult with a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation.

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