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WHAT IS EAR DRUM PERFORATION?

A perforated ear drum as the name implies indicates a hole or ‘bursting’ of ear drum. 

 

Perforated ear drums usually heals within a few weeks and may not need any treatment.

However, it is important to investigate this as it can result in hearing loss and/or make you more vulnerable to infections. 

CAUSES OF EAR DRUM PERFORATION


There are several potential causes of an ear drum perforation, with the most common due to penetrating trauma from an object such a pencil or cotton wool bud. Other causes include:

  • ear infections

  • forceful blowing of your nose, sudden pressure changes whilst scuba diving or flying

  • loud noise, such as close proximity to an explosion, or loud music.

SYMPTOMS OF A PERFORATED EAR DRUM

 Common symptoms when an ear drum perforates include:

  • sudden hearing loss,

  • ear ache or pain in the ear,

  • itching of the ear,

  • ear discharge

  • ringing or buzzing noise in the ear (tinnitus).

TREATMENT OF A PERFORATED EAR DRUM

 

A perforated ear drum may not require any treatment as it can heal itself within a few weeks. However, surgery or Myringoplasty, may be needed if the hole in the ear drum is very large.

The myringoplasty procedure involves harvesting a graft from either the lining of the muscle behind the back of the ear or taking part of ear cartilage, to cover the hole in the ear drum. This is performed under a general anaesthetic and dressings are then applied to the ear canal. The ear will need to be kept dry on a permanent basis to minimise the risk of infection after surgery and graft failure.

 A myringoplasty is beneficial, in that if successful, it will prevent water from entering into the middle ear, which can in turn cause ear infections or persistent ear discharge. If the perforated ear drum causes significant hearing loss, a myringoplasty may also help to improve the hearing.

 

COMPLICATIONS

As with most surgery, complications although rare may arise and can include graft failure, taste disturbance, dizziness, hearing loss, tinnitus, facial paralysis, and allergic reaction to the dressings in the ear canal.