The eardrum is also known as the tympanic membrane. It is a thin layer of skin-like tissue which covers the end of the ear canal. It is a couple of centimetres in from the outer opening. The drum is delicate because it needs to be sensitive to tiny vibrations in order that we can hear quiet sounds. As a result, it doesn't take much force to cause it to rupture. Thankfully it is well protected from mechanical damage as it is situated in the ear canal.
What Causes A Burst Ear Drum? The two commonest causes of eardrum rupture are
- Ear infections
- Changes in pressure
How Do Ear Infections Cause Eardrum Rupture?
Ear infections cause eardrum through changing the pressure in the ear, so could be included in the second category. The Eustachian tube drains the space in the middle ear into the nasal cavity. Blockage occurs due to inflammation and infection in the nose and nearby areas. As a result the middle ear space fills with water which becomes infected and increases the pressure on the eardrum. This eventually ruptures.
What Is Barotrauma?
The second cause of rupture; changes in pressure, is also known as barotrauma. This occurs with with very loud noises, bomb blasts and with rapid changes in altitude or with water pressure at depth whilst scuba diving. Pressure changes occur whilst scuba diving and with altitude. These are usually compensated for by the Eustachian tube allowing the pressure to equalise on either side of the eardrum. This doesn't occur if the person has a cold or other ear infection, making eardrum rupture much more likely. Ear plugs may help prevent ear infections from scuba diving but should only be used in shallow water as they may cause damage at depth.
There are so many different types of ear plugs available on the market today it can make it difficult knowing which to choose. Here's some advice.
Foam ear plugs are useful if you use ear plugs occasionally and throw them away. They are uncomfortable and fall out because they expand outwards in the ear canals. They pressing against the sensitive skin lining your ear canals. Not suitable to use when in water because they are porous and won't keep water out of your ears.
Molded ear plugs make great all-round earplugs which are ideal for regular users. A good pair from ZenPlugs will last years and they don't fall out all the time. Antibacterial varieties are available and they are more comfortable than other types. They are effective when it comes to blocking sound from the ears. This is due to the individualised seal they make with your ears.
Wax and soft silicon earplugs are good when swimming and stay in the ears well. Unfortunately they can be sticky and accumulate copious hair, dirt and skin cells so only last a few uses, becoming expensive if used for a long time.
Do yourself a favour and buy yourself a long-lasting, highly effective pair of molded ear plugs.
What Are The Advantages Of Molded Fitted Ear Plugs?
There are many different types of earplugs available to buy on the market. Foam, wax, silicon, rubber, which should you choose?
Molded fitted ear plugs make great general purpose earplugs because they are excellent at blocking sound and water from your ears. Because each is individually molded they are incredibly comfortable as they fit like a key in a lock.
ZenPlugs Molded Fitted Earplugs don't stand proud from your ears, unlike the foam and many other types. This means that they are comfortable especially when lying with your ear on the pillow in bed because they don't press into your ears.
They are also antibacterial, helping to guard you against ear infections caused by wearing earplugs for a long time. Long-term use of ear plugs can lead to high levels of temperature and humidity in your ear canals which can lead to growth of fungi and bacteria.
ZenPlugs are non-porous and waterproof. This makes them great for preventing swimmer's ear and surfer's ear. They can be connected on a cord an tied to your wetsuit so you don't lose them.
Early signs of swimmer's ear include itching and soreness. Make sure you start using ear plugs for swimming at this stage before the problem progresses. Otherwise you might end up needing antibiotics.