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Perforated Eardrum (cont.)

Perforated Eardrum Causes

Infection of the middle ear is the most common cause of a ruptured eardrum.

  • Infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi.
  • Infections increase the pressure behind your eardrum, stretching the drum and causing pain.
  • When the eardrum can no longer stretch, it bursts or tears.
  • Frequently, the pain gets better, because the pressure is now relieved, however, sometimes the pain can get worse.

Trauma can also cause perforation.

  • Blunt or penetrating trauma, such as from a fall on the side of your head or a stick that goes deep in your ear
  • Rapid changes in pressure, for example, scuba diving (barotrauma, ear pain, or ear squeeze), or going up in an elevator too fast
  • The eardrum can be ruptured in other ways.
  • Slaps to the ear, such as a fall while water skiing or a hand slap to the side of the head
  • Lightning blasts
  • Blast waves from gunshots, fireworks, and other loud noises or explosions
  • Changes in air pressure during air travel or scuba diving
  • Sharp objects or cotton-tipped swabs
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls
  • Sports injuries
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/11/2015

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Middle Ear, Tympanic Membrane, Perforations »

Tympanic membrane perforation (TMP) is a condition as old as the human species.

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