What is a perforated eardrum?

A perforated eardrum is a hole or tear in the eardrum (tympanic membrane). Symptoms of a perforated eardrum include loss of hearing and occasional discharge. There may also be some pain or discomfort.

The amount of hearing loss experienced depends on the size and location of the perforation. In many cases a perforated eardrum will heal on its own, other times surgery to repair the hole is necessary. Additional problems can occur if water or bacteria enter the middle ear through the perforation.

How do I know if I have a problem?

The typical signs of a perforated eardrum are

  • Sudden changes to your hearing. You might find it difficult to hear anything or it may be that your hearing is slightly muffled
  • Earache or pain in your ear
  • Itching in your ear
  • Fluid leaking from your ear
  • High temperature
  • Ringing or buzzing in your ears (if this is your only symptom check out our tinnitus information page)

What treatment is available?

Perforated eardrums do not always need treatment, however you should visit your GP so they are able to check for infection and to advise you on what you can do to relieve symptoms.