What is the definition of Ruptured Eardrum?

A ruptured eardrum is an opening or hole in the eardrum. The eardrum is a thin piece of tissue that separates the outer and middle ear. Damage to the eardrum may harm hearing.

What are the alternative names for Ruptured Eardrum?

Tympanic membrane perforation; Eardrum - ruptured or perforated; Perforated eardrum

What are the causes for Ruptured Eardrum?

Ear infections may cause a ruptured eardrum. This occurs more often in children. The infection causes pus or fluid to build up behind the eardrum. As the pressure increases, the eardrum may break open (rupture).

Damage to the eardrum can also occur from:

  • A very loud noise close to the ear, such as a gunshot
  • A rapid change in ear pressure, which may occur when flying, scuba diving, or driving in the mountains
  • Foreign objects in the ear
  • Injury to the ear (such as from a powerful slap or explosion)
  • Inserting cotton-tipped swabs or small objects into the ears to clean them

What are the symptoms for Ruptured Eardrum?

Ear pain may suddenly decrease right after your eardrum ruptures.

After the rupture, you may have:

  • Drainage from the ear (drainage may be clear, pus, or bloody)
  • Ear noise/buzzing
  • Earache or ear discomfort
  • Hearing loss in the involved ear (hearing loss may not be total)
  • Weakness of the face, or dizziness (in more severe cases)

What are the current treatments for Ruptured Eardrum?

You can take steps at home to treat ear pain.

  • Put warm compresses on the ear to help relieve discomfort.
  • Use medicines such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease pain.

Keep the ear clean and dry while it is healing.

  • Place cotton balls in the ear while showering or shampooing to prevent water from entering the ear.
  • Avoid swimming or putting your head underneath the water.

Your provider may prescribe antibiotics (oral or ear drops) to prevent or treat an infection.

Repair of the eardrum might be needed for larger holes or ruptures or if the eardrum does not heal on its own. This can be done either in the office or under anesthesia.

  • Patch the eardrum with a piece of the person's own tissue taken (called tympanoplasty). This procedure will usually take 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Repair smaller holes in the eardrum by placing either gel or a special paper over the eardrum (called myringoplasty). This procedure will usually take 10 to 30 minutes.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Ruptured Eardrum?

The opening in the eardrum most often heals by itself within 2 months if it is a small hole.

Hearing loss will be short-term if the rupture heals completely.

Rarely, other problems may occur, such as:

  • Long-term hearing loss
  • Spread of infection to the bone behind the ear (mastoiditis)
  • Long-term vertigo and dizziness
  • Chronic ear infection or ear drainage

When should I contact a medical professional for Ruptured Eardrum?

If your pain and symptoms improve after your eardrum ruptures, you may wait until the next day to see your provider.

Call your provider right away after your eardrum ruptures if you:

  • Are very dizzy
  • Have a fever, general ill feeling, or hearing loss
  • Have very bad pain or a loud ringing in your ear
  • Have an object in your ear that does not come out
  • Have any symptoms that last longer than 2 months after treatment

How do I prevent Ruptured Eardrum?

DO NOT insert objects into the ear canal, even to clean it. Objects stuck in the ear should only be removed by a provider. Have ear infections treated right away.



Kerschner JE, Preciado D. Otitis media. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 658.

Pelton SI. Otitis externa, otitis media, and mastoiditis. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 61.

Pelton SI. Otitis media. In: Long SS, Prober CG, Fischer M, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 29.

  • Condition: Endoscopic Butterfly Inlay Myringoplasty
  • Journal: Zhonghua er bi yan hou tou jing wai ke za zhi = Chinese journal of otorhinolaryngology head and neck surgery
  • Treatment Used: Tympanic Membrane Perforation
  • Number of Patients: 38
  • Published —
In this study, researchers evaluated the outcomes of undergoing an endoscopic butterfly inlay myringoplasty for the treatment of tympanic membrane perforations.
  • Condition: Subtotal Tympanic Membrane Perforations
  • Journal: European archives of oto-rhino-laryngology : official journal of the European Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (EUFOS) : affiliated with the German Society for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
  • Treatment Used: Palisade Cartilage Tympanoplasty Versus One-piece Composite Cartilage-perichondrium Grafts
  • Number of Patients: 42
  • Published —
In this study, researchers compared the effectiveness of palisade cartilage tympanoplasty versus one-piece composite cartilage-perichondrium grafts for the treatment of subtotal tympanic membrane perforations.
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Phase: N/A
  • Intervention Type: Drug, Procedure
  • Participants: 90
  • Start Date: May 1, 2021
Pseudoephedrine Prophylaxis for Prevention of Middle Ear Barotrauma in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Phase: Phase 2/Phase 3
  • Intervention Type: Drug, Procedure
  • Participants: 100
  • Start Date: February 14, 2021
Use of Autologous Plasma Rich in Platelets and Extracellular Vesicles in the Surgical Treatment of Chronic Otitis Media