Perforated Eardrum – Symptoms & Treatment

Dr. Anupam Biswas, Otolaryngologist ENT Surgeon, is a specialist in perforated ear drum repair surgery (Myringoplasty / Tympanoplasty). Here is some information for patients to help you get a better understanding of perforated eardrum damage, effects and treatment – including symptoms, risks, medical treatment and surgical repair options, and recovering from eardrum surgery. If you are in Kolkata, India, and have any questions / concerns about your ear pain or upcoming ear drum surgery, feel free to contact Dr. Biswas.

Perforated Eardrum Surgical Repair

Perforated Eardrum Surgical Repair

The eardrum, also known as the tympanic membrane, is a thin layer of tissue that separates the outer ear from the middle ear. A perforated eardrum is a hole or tear in the eardrum.

If you have a perforated eardrum, your hearing will probably be affected and you will have earache. Any hearing loss is usually temporary. There are several possible causes of a perforated eardrum. The most common cause is an infection of the middle ear. It can also be caused by a loud noise or injury to the ear.

If you have a perforated eardrum, avoid getting your ear wet and take painkillers as required. Surgery may be necessary in severe cases. Visit your ENT Specialist Dr. Biswas if you have pain or discomfort in your ear for more than a couple of days.

Eardrum Damage Symptoms & Risks

Hearing Loss

The extent of any hearing loss will depend on the size of the hole in your eardrum. A small puncture may only cause a slight loss of hearing, whereas a large puncture is likely to cause greater hearing loss.

As well as hearing loss, a perforated eardrum may cause the following symptoms:

  • earache or discomfort
  • a discharge of mucus from your ear
  • ringing or buzzing in your ear (tinnitus)

 

Risk of infection

The eardrum forms a protective barrier that prevents germs and bacteria from entering your middle ear.

Therefore, if you have a perforated eardrum, your risk of developing an ear infection is increased.

Symptoms

If you have an infection of the middle ear, you may experience:

  • severe earache, due to the pressure of the mucus on the eardrum
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • slight hearing loss

 

Symptoms of an ear infection in children

Children who have an ear infection may also develop flu-like symptoms, such as vomiting and a lack of energy. Babies with ear infections will be hot and irritable.

Other signs of an ear infection in children and babies are:

  • pulling, tugging or rubbing their ear
  • a high temperature (38C or above)
  • irritability
  • poor feeding
  • restlessness at night
  • coughing
  • runny nose
  • not responding to quiet sounds
  • loss of balance

 

Ear Examination for Eardrum Damage

Otoscope / Auriscope for Ear Examination

Otoscope   Auriscope for Ear Examination

Your ENT Specialist Dr. Biswas will use an auriscope, also known as an otoscope, to examine your eardrum.

An auriscope is an instrument with a light and a lens that allows your ENT doctor to examine the inside of your ear. If you have a perforated eardrum, your doctor will be able to see a hole or tear in the eardrum.

Treating a Perforated Eardrum

In many cases, a perforated eardrum will heal by itself without treatment in around two months. If treatment is needed, it’s mainly to relieve discomfort and treat infection. You may need eardrum surgery if your perforated eardrum is severe or doesn’t heal. The surgical operation / procedure used to repair a perforated eardrum is known as a Myringoplasty or Tympanoplasty. It is a microsurgical procedure that uses a patient’s own tissues (autologous grafts) or some special materials, to reconstruct the eardrum or tympanic membrane.

 

Managing Pain

Any pain or discomfort caused by a perforated eardrum can be treated using painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. To avoid risks of side-effects, dosage issues, and interaction with other drugs, please obtain and follow the advice of your ENT Specialist Doctor Biswas.

You may want to try placing a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel against your ear, as this sometimes relieves any discomfort.

 

Antibiotics

Your ENT Specialist Dr. Biswas may prescribe antibiotics if your perforated eardrum was caused by an infection, or if there is a risk that an infection will develop while your eardrum heals. You may be prescribed antibiotic eardrops or tablets to be swallowed.

 

Surgical Eardrum Repair

As mentioned above, your best option may be eardrum surgery if your perforated eardrum is severe or doesn’t heal via antibiotics. The surgical procedure / operation for repairing a perforated eardrum is generally a Myringoplasty or Tympanoplasty. It involves a microsurgical procedure using some special materials or the patient’s own tissues (autologous grafts) to reconstruct the tympanic membrane or eardrum.

A Tympanoplasty or Myringoplasty may be recommended to:

  • prevent water from entering your middle ear (which could cause an infection)
  • reduce your likelihood of getting ear infections
  • improve your hearing

 

The Eardrum Repair Surgical Procedure

If you decide to have a Myringoplasty or Tympanoplasty, you will need to get admitted to the hospital. The time you will need to spend in the hospital will vary depending on your situation – about two days or less in general.

The Myringoplasty / Tympanoplasty procedure is carried out under general anaesthesia. You will be asleep throughout the entire duration of the procedure. The procedure normally takes an hour or two. A small piece of tissue is usually taken from above your ear and used to seal up the hole / perforation in your eardrum. This is known as a graft.

Your ENT surgeon Dr. Biswas will use a microscope and very small surgical equipment to seal up the hole / ear drum perforation with the skin graft. In some cases, a cut is made behind your ear to access your eardrum more easily.

After the procedure, a dressing will be placed inside your ear canal (see picture at the top of this page) and cotton wool padding will be put over your ear and held in place with a bandage. You may also have some stitches.

 

Recovering from Eardrum Surgery

You will need two weeks off work or school / college after your ear drum repair operation. During this time, it is recommended that you avoid:

  • sudden head movement
  • contact sports or strenuous exercise
  • heavy lifting
  • people who have a cough or cold, so that you don’t catch their infection

If you have stitches, these will be removed after around a week.

A Myringoplasty / Tympanoplasty should not cause too much pain, but if necessary you can take painkillers, such as paracetamol (as directed by Dr. Biswas). You may experience some dizziness for two or three weeks.

Two to four weeks after your operation, you will have another appointment at the hospital / clinic to have your dressings removed and your ear / ear drum checked.

Keep any wounds dry until they have healed. Do not go swimming and keep your ear covered when you have a shower or bath. Do not fly until your doctor says it is safe to do so.

For additional reading, here are 2 links to the US NIH Site (National Institutes of Health):
Ruptured Eardrum       Eardrum Repair

 

Next Steps – Plan your Treatment

Contact ENT Specialist & Surgeon Dr. Anupam Biswas at (91) 98301 73187 for an ENT Consultation and start prompt & timely treatment for your Ear infection to prevent / rectify any potential Eardrum damage.

You will get a thorough evaluation of your ear drum and an objective assessment of the severity of the eardrum perforation / damage – and your surgical options for a full recovery / correction of hearing loss.

Dr. Anupam Biswas is a highly skilled, respected and experienced ENT Specialist / Otolaryngologist Surgeon – who has been serving his patients with caring, competence, and integrity for over 2 decades.

You can contact Dr. Biswas for all your Ear, Nose, Throat infections / conditions (related to your ear / eardrum, hearing loss issues – as well as pain & problems related to your Sinus, Larynx, and Upper Respiratory Tract / Lungs).

Dr. Anupam Biswas   ENT Surgeon, Kolkata, India.

Leave a Reply