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Broken ear drum: Causes and treatment

If the ear feels uncomfortable, hurts, buzzes, and exits fluid, it could be because your eardrum ruptures. Infection and injury are some of the causes. But don't worry, there are several medical steps to overcome them.

The eardrum is the thin membrane that separates the outside of the ear and the middle of the ear. The eardrum or also called the tympanic membrane, will vibrate when exposed to sound waves. The vibration is then sent to the middle and inner ear and then passed to the brain. The eardrum also functions to protect the middle ear from bacteria, fluids, or foreign objects that are about to enter.

Symptoms of Broken Ear Drum

Symptoms that appear in each person can vary. In some cases, symptoms only appear at certain times. Symptoms of rupture of the eardrum include:

  • Hearing disorders
  • The ear aches or pains
  • Fever
  • Itchy
  • Tinnitus
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizzy
  • Removes clear or red liquid
  • Limp


In some cases, a ruptured eardrum does not cause symptoms that are easily detected. Check immediately if you have experienced an injury or accident that can endanger the ear.

Things That Can Cause a Ear Drum Shatter

Because it is thin, this very important part of the ear is prone to damage, such as tearing or rupture. The reason could be because of the following:


A common cause of ruptured eardrums, especially in children, is due to ear infections. Middle ear infections make fluid build up behind the eardrum. As a result, the pressure in the middle ear will increase and push the eardrum outwards, so that it can cause tears.


A ruptured eardrum can also occur if the side of the head is hit hard until a skull fracture occurs, do not carefully clean the ears with cotton buds, or because small objects enter the ear.

Pressure change

When the air pressure in the middle ear and environment is out of balance, this will make the eardrum depressed. This is called barotrauma. Barotrauma can cause the eardrum to rupture, if the pressure produced is very large. Barotrauma can occur when someone dives, drives on a plateau, or takes an airplane.

Acoustic trauma

Hearing very loud sounds (explosions or shots) can also endanger the eardrum and cause the eardrum to rupture, although this is rare.

Complications of Broken Ear Drum

The eardrum serves to protect the middle of the ear from bacteria or water that tries to enter. The eardrum also acts as a voice converter into a vibration, which is then converted into a signal and sent to the brain. Therefore, if there is damage to the eardrum, complications that can occur include:

  • Otitis media or middle ear infection
  • Cholesteatoma or cyst in the middle ear
  • Hearing loss


Need Medical Assistance to treat it

A ruptured eardrum can heal on its own without treatment, within a few weeks. But if there is no improvement, the doctor will provide treatment in the form of:


Antibiotics in the form of pills (drugs taken) or ear drops function to clear the infection and protect the ear from new infections due to exposure to the middle ear from the eardrum tear. Antibiotics are given if the eardrum ruptures due to infection.

Patching of the eardrum

If it is not closed by itself, an ENT specialist can patch the eardrum. You do this by applying chemicals on the edge of the tear to stimulate the growth of new membranes and close the eardrum tears with patches. This procedure may need to be repeated more than once until the hole is closed completely.


If the patch doesn't work, the final solution is to do a tympanoplasty operation. In this operation, an ENT specialist will transplant a little skin from the patient's body to close the hole in the eardrum. After the surgical procedure is completed, the patient can go home on the same day, unless there are other reasons that the patient must be hospitalized.

When you experience a ruptured eardrum, there are several things that need to be considered in order to support the healing process, namely:

  • Keep your ears dry. When bathing, use silicone or cotton earplugs wrapped in petroleum jelly to prevent water from entering the ear.
  • Do not swim for some time until the eardrum recovers, or is allowed by the doctor.
  • Avoid ear scraping because it risks injuring the eardrum.
  • Avoid exhaling by covering the mouth and nose, the increase in pressure in the ear can cause the eardrum to return.

If your ear hurts because the eardrum ruptures, or if there are other complaints such as hearing loss when you experience a ruptured eardrum, don't hesitate to consult an ENT specialist (ear, nose, throat) so that proper treatment can be given.



Cunha, J. MedicineNet (2017). Ruptured (Perforated) Eardrum Symptoms, Treatment, and Healing Time.

Howard, M. Medscape (2018). Drugs & Diseases. Middle Ear, Tympanic Membrane, Perforations Treatment & Management.

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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