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Perforated Ear Drum

Perforated Ear Drum

Call a doctor immediately if you suspect you or someone you know has a ruptured eardrum and any of the following occur:

  • An uncontrolled spinning sensation
  • Difficulty walking
  • An abrupt change in hearing
  • A change in the ability to taste foods
  • You accidentally put your ear under water

The following symptoms suggest a potentially life-threatening complication and require immediate medical evaluation:

  • Stiff neck
  • High fever
  • The worst headache  of your life
  • Numbness or weakness in face, arms, or legs
  • Difficulty talking or opening mouth
  • Continued vomiting
  • Pain or swelling behind the ear
  • Abrupt change in vision
  • Difficulty staying awake
Prevention

Some causes of ruptured eardrums cannot be prevented or avoided. A little caution can lower the risk.

  • Treat ear infections early.
  • Avoid flying or scuba diving if you have sinus infection or upper respiratory tract infection.
  • If you must fly or scuba dive, pinch your nose and swallow air frequently to help equalize the pressure.
  • Never put anything in your ear, even to clean it (for example, Q-Tips).
  • Wear proper ear protection such as ear plugs or protection designed for sports activities.
Outlook

After a few weeks, the patient should notice no long-term symptoms. Perforated eardrums generally heal within two months, and any accompanying hearing loss is usually temporary.

Rarely, a dangerous infection can spread into the brain or skull. This requires immediate hospitalization or surgery. Also, if the patient has symptoms of severe dizziness and vomiting, facial paralysis, or hearing loss, more extensive surgery of the inner or middle ear may be required beyond patching the eardrum.

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