February 3, 2010

How to Prevent a Ruptured Eardrum

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

The eardrum, also known as the tympanic membrane is a thin membranous tissue that divides the ear canal and the middle ear. Sound waves striking the eardrum cause it to vibrate and these vibrations are passed on through the bones of the middle ear where they stimulate the inner ear and trigger off nerve impulses to the brain. The brain then interprets the sound and this is how we hear.

A ruptured or a perforated eardrum occurs when the tympanic membrane gets torn and can result in a partial or a complete loss of hearing depending on the severity of the injury. Ruptured eardrums are prone to infection and further injury, which is why they need to be well protected. They will usually heal on their own which is why doctors prefer no treatment as the best natural treatment in such cases. Severe cases may require surgical intervention but in most cases the doctor may prescribe certain measures to speed up the healing process.

There are a range of factors that may cause damage to the eardrums. One cause  is loud sounds. Ever since the advent of the ‘Walkman’ and the ubiquitous mp3 player, loud sounds over headphones have caused a whole generations to grow up with impaired hearing. In extreme cases, loud sound can be the cause a perforated eardrum. For those of us who are fond of loud music, the risk of injury to our ears remains high,  which is why it is essential to turn down the volume.

Ear infections are another cause of ruptured eardrums especially amongst children. The infection leads to a buildup of pus and fluid in the ear which exerts pressure on the eardrums. Increasing pressure may cause the eardrum to rupture. Other causes of ruptured eardrums include differences in air pressures that are experienced by air travelers, divers and mountaineers or by driving or travelling through the mountains. Other common causes are the insertion of cotton swabs or matchsticks to clean the ears, foreign objects in the ears and trauma that could be caused by an external force such as an explosion.

So how does one tell if they have suffered a ruptured eardrum? Signs of a ruptured eardrum include a discharge of fluid from the ears. The fluid may be clear or may contain traces of pus or blood. You may hear a constant buzzing sound in your ear. This is known as tinnitus and should be reported immediately to your doctor. Any kind of earache, a decreased hearing ability or dizziness may also be indicative of a perforated eardrum and should be immediately reported to your doctor.

Your doctor will decide on the best treatment for you. It may include the use of antibiotics in case of an infection, painkillers if  the pain is too severe or even surgery in cases of extreme damage. Your doctor may also place an ear patch over the eardrum to help speed up the healing process.

Home remedies for a busted or a ruptured eardrum are aimed towards supportive care and avoiding further aggravation to the injury. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Plug your ears with cotton swabs while bathing to avoid water entering the ear canal.
  • Avoid Make sure that your ears are well protected before you go swimming.
  • Avoid Take special care when cleaning you clean your ears as this may aggravate the injury. Keep your ears dry by using a clean, disinfected cloth to wipe the outer areas.
  • Avoid blowing your earsKeep your ears protected from strong winds.
  • Avoid travelling by airair travel.
  • Homeopathic treatment such as arnica and calendula may also help.

As always, prevention is better than cure. To lessen your risks of suffering a perforated eardrum, avoid listening to loud music, stay away from noisy environments and treat any ear infection early. While cleaning your ears, ensure that you do not insert the ear bud too deeply. Wear ear plugs or other protection while swimming or flying.


  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001038.htm