Perforated Eardrum

Perforation of the eardrum occurs when a hole or tear appears in the tissue between the external and middle ear. This is a common condition that generally heals without complications in a few weeks, and in sport it is associated with trauma to the side of the head.


A noticeable change in hearing ability, such as hearing muffled noises or simply less than usual. This is rarely more than moderate impairment. Sometimes it is accompanied by earaches or other pain. The ear is more likely to bleed or secrete another discharge if the injury was caused through blunt trauma or the invasion of an object. Pus emission may indicate an infection, which may arise simultaneously with cold symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, congestion, sore throat or a high temperature. A high-pitched ringing (tinnitus) might be present on occasion but is unlikely to become chronic.


Athletes mainly suffer from a perforated eardrum as the result of a hard strike to the ear, either in contact sports or from a fast ball or similar projectile. If a sharp or small object is pressed into the ear with force then this can also provoke the injury. This includes ear cleaning products like cotton buds, which professionals do not recommend. Another common cause is strenuous pressure in the ear; this can arise after an extremely loud noise or at high or low altitudes (for example, during deep swimming). The injury is regularly sustained due to an ear infection, and should always be reported to a doctor.


Be careful not to let water into the affected ear when showering or bathing, and if you partake in water sports you must either protect yourself carefully with adequate headwear or refrain from such activities until the eardrum has healed. Consult a doctor to ascertain the cause and rule out other possible injuries. They may prescribe antibiotics as necessary. Pain medication can be necessary if the condition proves painful. You should generally recover within a month, and the doctor will examine your ear again to make sure there are no complications. In rare instances, surgery called myringoplasty is used to repair a particularly severe hole or tear.

Possible Prevention

A perforated eardrum is often linked to infection, and you may be at greater risk of a recurring perforation if you regularly suffer from ear infections. In terms of preventing blunt trauma to the ear or excessive force from objects, you can invest in the correct headgear for your activities. Boxing helmets, for instance, use large pads to protect the ears, and most cycling helmets do likewise. Ear specialists do not endorse cleaning your ear using products such as cotton buds, as this can cause injuries like perforated eardrums. Earwax is actually beneficial unless it has built up excessively.

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