What is Ruptured Eardrum?
A ruptured eardrum is a general term for explaining the existence of a hole or a tear in the tympanic membrane, a thin, skin-like tissue, as the outer ear canal separator with the middle ear. This condition can lead to interference with loss of hearing and infection of the middle ear.
The ruptured eardrum can heal by itself within a few weeks without the appearance of complications as above. In the case of a broken eardrum that does not recover, medical or surgical procedures may be necessary.
Causes of Ruptured Eardrum
A ruptured eardrum may be caused by several factors that contribute to the level of a person’s hearing loss. Small holes or tears are at risk of causing minor hearing loss as well, and vice versa. Some causes of eardrums are broken, among others:
- Small objects or foreign objects that enter the ear. Cotton from the cotton bud used to clean the ears can also cause tearing of the eardrum.
- Infections of the middle ear or otitis media. This infection causes a buildup of fluid that can hit the eardrum until it finally broke.
- Loud noise or explosion (acoustic trauma). Sound waves with excessive force can cause tearing of the eardrum, such as the sound of gunfire eruptions.
- Barotrauma or stress in the eardrum caused by pressure imbalance in the inner ear with pressure in the Barotrauma is generally associated with being at a certain height in the aircraft as the most common cause. Diving activities, such as scuba diving, can also cause barotrauma and trigger rupture of the eardrum. The greater the pressure that the ear drum has, the greater the risk of experiencing barotrauma.
- Severe trauma that occurs in the head. Types of trauma in particular, such as cracks in the skull, can cause damage to the structure of the eardrum.
Symptoms to the Condition of Ruptured Eardrum
Symptoms of a ruptured eardrum may include:
- Ear pain that can go on and pass quickly.
- Tinnitus (the appearance of a voice ringing inside the ear).
- Vertigo (severe headache with the surrounding circumstances such as circling).
- High fever.
- Nausea or vomiting that can also be caused by vertigo.
- Loss of hearing function.
- Fumes are purulent or contain blood that comes out of the ear.
The ears have structures and mechanisms susceptible to disease and injury. Quick handling will support the natural recovery process and ultimately save your hearing.
Diagnosis of Ruptured Eardrum
Checking the condition of the eardrum rupture can be done by ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. Tell your doctor about the symptoms that are felt, what are the events related to this condition, and what treatment steps will be performed doctor. The doctor will begin the initial examination using a special tool called otoscope or auriskop to see the condition of the ear and get the diagnosis.
In other cases, you may have to go through a series of tests to determine the cause of damage to the eardrum, such as:
- Laboratory examination to find out what infection is experienced by the middle ear.
- Tests that use a tympanometer (tympanometry) to measure the response of the eardrum against changes in air pressure. This test uses a tool to be inserted into the ear canal.
- Tests that use tuning forks to determine the cause and extent of hearing loss. In addition to the rupture of the eardrum, hearing loss can be caused also by damage to the nerves or sensors inside the inner ear.
- Audiological examination performed if other hearing tests can not give a final conclusion. This test is performed in a soundproofed room to measure how well the patient’s hearing condition is and distinguish the type and volume.
Treatment of Ruptured Eardrum
Self-care independently before you get treatment from a doctor is to keep your ears dry. Use antiair ear plugs made of silicon when bathing or swimming. You can also use cotton balls coated with petroleum jelly to cover the outer ear.
In most cases, the eardrum may rupture within weeks without having to undergo certain medical procedures. Associated with the case of infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics in the form of drops. To relieve earache, you can use painkillers that can be obtained freely, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. In cases where the eardrum is not recovering, the doctor may take action to close the hole or tear, that is by:
- Patching the eardrum. A chemical will be smeared on the periphery of the hole to stimulate tissue growth, then close the hole area with fillings. This procedure can be done repeatedly until the hole closes.
- Surgery of tympanoplasty or myringoplasty. This surgical procedure does not require the patient to stay in the hospital. The doctor will transplant the small tissue taken from the front or back of the ear to close the hole or tear on the eardrum. This procedure usually requires general anesthesia and surgery is usually performed on the back of the ear that is closer to the location of the eardrum. The recovery process usually lasts up to two weeks even though you’ve been allowed home on the day of surgery.
At home, in addition to keeping the ear dry, avoid cleaning your ears for a while so that the ear can recover properly. Avoid also blowing the nose or blowing through the nose with too hard because the pressure generated can inhibit the healing process of the eardrum. You can put a warm flannel on the infected ear to help ease the pain.
Complications of Ruptured Eardrum
Complications of the eardrum rupture may occur when the ear is being healed or when the process fails. The failure of the healing process of the eardrum can affect its main function, namely as the sense of hearing and protector of the middle ear of bacteria and other substances, even water. Some complications that may occur, among others:
- Middle ear cyst or cholesteatoma
The ear cyst is generally composed of dust debris or remnants of skin cells entering the outer ear together with earwax wax. The rest of these skin cells will easily enter the inner ear through a damaged eardrum and form a cyst as a site of development of bacteria and bone-damaging proteins.
- Otitis media
The ruptured eardrums facilitate the entry of bacteria so that the ear condition becomes more susceptible and more difficult to recover. If not treated promptly, the infection will develop and cause hearing loss, increased pain, to bleeding.
- Loss of hearing
This condition can be temporary until the eardrum recovers as well as the level of perceived hearing loss. In addition to the tear, the location of the tear also affects hearing loss.
- Temporary paralysis
This condition will occur in the area of the face caused by the sound of nerves that control the facial muscles. Conditions can be permanent in some cases.
- Changes in the sense of taste
The impact of this condition may vary for each patient. Some may be temporary and some are permanent.
Prevention of Ruptured Eardrum
Rupture or damage to the eardrum can be prevented by performing the following steps.
- As much as possible keep the ears away from foreign objects that can enter or linger on the inside. Avoid using cotton buds, paper clips, or hairpins to eject ear candles / earwax by force because it can damage the eardrum. Keep children away from small objects that can fit easily into their ears.
- Avoid ear from sound too loud. Listening to a high volume or too loud sound can cause damage to the eardrum. Listen to the sound at a volume that is safe for the ear, and use ear plugs or earpieces when in a loud environment, such as in the factory area and building construction.
- If possible, avoid air travel while having a cold or have an allergy that causes the nose or ear plugs. Eye imbalance experienced by the ear also risks causing rupture of the eardrum. Use an equal pressure ear plug, chew gum, or yawn as the plane takes off or lands to empty the space inside the ear. Try not to fall asleep when the height increases or decreases.
- Immediately treat an ear that has an infection, especially in the middle ear, to prevent damage to the eardrum. Prevent children who have an infection from the habit of pulling or rubbing their ears. Symptoms that need to be monitored include earache, nasal congestion, fever, and reduced hearing function.
To reduce the pressure inside the ear, you can use the Valsalva technique, by blowing the air through the nose gently while covering the nostrils and mouth.