Ruptured ear drum is also known as perforated tympanic membrane. It is a common problem affecting adults and children alike. There are many causes of a ruptured eardrum; here are a few.
- Infective. This is one of the commonest causes. In otitis media, middle ear infection, the space in the middle ear which is usually filled with air becomes filled with fluid. This becomes infected and expands, bursting the tympanic membrane from the inside out. The pain of the eardrum stretching and then tearing is severe but is relieved by the burst which is accompanied by a rush of pus and blood.
- Traumatic. The ear drum can be burst from the outside in by a twig or other long pointed implement being pushed down the ear canal.
- Pressure. A sudden change in air pressure such as a bomb blast can create a shear force across the drum, causing it to tear. This can be prevented with a good pair of ear plugs. Change in altitude in an aeroplane or whilst scuba diving may also cause the condition. This is particularly so if the person has Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. It stops them equalising the pressure between their middle ear and the outside world.
- Surgical. A surgical myringotomy may be performed to make a deliberate hole in the tympanic membrane. if repeated ear infections are a problem. This may be held open and prevented from healing with a grommet. Ear plugs may be useful to keep water out of the ears if recommended by your ENT surgeon.