Human ears consist of complex and delicate organs. Apart from the outer ear, which includes the pinna (the visible part of the ear) and the ear canal, the human ear has a middle and inner ear. Any damage to these parts can result in complications, which may include hearing loss.
What is a Punctured Eardrum?
The ear canal originates from the external ear, and leads to the inner ear. The ear canal ends in a thin membranous structure called the eardrum, which is otherwise known as the tympanic membrane, tympanum, or myrinx. The eardrum separates the outer ear from the middle ear, and is made of three layers.
The main function of the eardrum is transmission of sound waves to the middle ear. The sounds from outside travel through the ear canal to reach the eardrum. As the sound waves hit the eardrum, it vibrates; and the vibrations are transmitted to the middle and inner ear, thus enabling us to hear.
Apart from its role in aiding hearing, the eardrum also protects the inner parts of the ear from infections. In short, the eardrum is a vital part of the ear, and any damage to this membrane can result in various complications. Sometimes, the eardrum gets perforated, and the condition is known as punctured eardrum.
Symptoms and Causes
A punctured eardrum is a condition, wherein the eardrum suffers a hole or a tear. This condition may cause various symptoms, like mild or severe ear pain; which may disappear all of a sudden, as drainage starts. Such ear drainage can be clear or pus-filled.
Sometimes, the ear discharge may contain blood too. In some cases, the affected person may experience a ringing tone in his ear, and this condition is called tinnitus, or a sensation of spinning called vertigo. Another symptom is temporary hearing loss. The degree of such hearing loss depends on the severity of the perforation.
A punctured eardrum can be caused by a direct injury to the membrane, which results in its perforation. Perforation of the eardrum can be caused by q tips, as they are used extensively to clean the ear canal. This condition can also be caused by slapping on the ear or the nearby areas like the cheeks, after a loud explosion, or after a skull injury or fracture.
All the above said conditions are direct injuries to the eardrum. Apart from that, ear infections can also lead to a ruptured eardrum. In such cases, fluid builds up in the inner ear, raising the ear pressure, which leads to a tear in the eardrum. Such a tear relieves the person from ear pain, but causes ear discharge.
If left untreated, this condition may lead to ear infection; and eventually, hearing loss. In most cases, the condition resolves on its own. In such mild cases, treatment includes use of pain killers and antibiotics. The latter medication is for preventing infection. In some cases, the hole or tear in the eardrum has to be closed by an ear patch.
However, severe cases may require surgery (myringoplasty) to repair the perforated eardrum. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, or suffer direct injury to the eardrum; seek medical attention at the earliest, to avoid further complications.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.