Perforated Eardrum (cont.)
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How long does it take a perforated (ruptured) eardrum to heal?
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.
What about surgery to fix a perforated (ruptured) eardrum?
Some large holes or non-healing small holes require surgery.
Surgical procedures are performed with a general anesthetic. Most people go home from the hospital or clinic on the same day.
Which specialties of doctors treat a perforated (ruptured) eardrum?
A primary care provider (PCP) such as a family practitioner, an internist, or child’s pediatrician may diagnose a perforated eardrum. You may also see an emergency medicine specialist in a hospital’s emergency department.
Most perforated eardrums heal on their own, but if you need further treatment such as a patch or surgery, you may see an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist, or ENT).
When to seek medical care for a perforated (ruptured) eardrum
Call a doctor immediately if you suspect you or someone you know has a ruptured eardrum and any of the following occur:
The following symptoms suggest a potentially life-threatening complication and require immediate medical evaluation:
Can a perforated (ruptured) eardrum be prevented?
Some causes of ruptured eardrums cannot be prevented or avoided. A little caution can lower the risk.
What does a perforated (ruptured) eardrum look like (pictures)?
A normal tympanic membrane (eardrum). Click to view larger image.
A perforated tympanic membrane Click to view larger image.
A type of ear protection for water sports such as skiing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, or parasailing. Click to view larger image.
Ear protection for prevention of blast injuries typically caused by firearms. Click to view larger image.
Medically reviewed by Peter O’Connor, MD; American Board of Otolaryngology with subspecialty in Sleep Medicine
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/28/2016
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