How to care for your child with a Perforated (Ruptured) Eardrum
This leaflet will provide you with information on perforated (Ruptured) eardrum definition, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, home care tips and when to seek medical advice.
What is a perforated eardrum?
A perforated eardrum is a hole in the membrane (the tissue of the eardrum) that separates your ear canal from your middle ear.
What are the causes of perforated eardrums?
- Middle ear infection can result in the accumulation of fluids in your middle ear, which can cause the eardrum to tear up.
- Barotrauma (a sudden uncomfortable feeling where your child feels their ears are blocked) air pressure changes associated with air travel, scuba diving and the impact of a car airbag can cause Barotrauma
- Loud sounds or blasts can rarely cause a tear in your eardrum
- Foreign objects in your ear can puncture the eardrum
- Head injury
What are the symptoms of perforated eardrums?
- Ear pain that worsens before suddenly getting better
- Discharge from ear
- Hearing loss
- Ringing in your ear
- Spinning sensation
- Nausea or vomiting that can result from spinning sensation
How is perforated eardrum diagnosed?
The doctor will ask a few detailed questions about your child's health and examine your child's ear using a small handheld torch.
How is a perforated eardrum treated?
- Perforated eardrums usually heal without treatment within a few weeks
- You may get antibiotic drops if there is signs of infection
- If the hole in your eardrum doesn't heal by itself, treatment may include procedures to close the hole by an ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) specialist
- If follow up is needed, arrangement will be made, and you will be contacted for a follow up appointment in the ENT specialist clinic
Home care advice
- Keep your child’s ear dry. Place a waterproof silicone earplug or cotton ball coated with petroleum jelly in your ear when showering or bathing.
- Refrain from cleaning your ears, so it gets time to heal.
- Avoid blowing the nose. The pressure created can damage your healing eardrum.
- Hold a warm piece of cloth against the ear to help reduce any pain
- If your doctor advises giving medicine, you can give
- Paracetamol (any brand) or Ibuprofen (any brand)
- Follow the instruction on the medicine package for the correct dose for your child
- Do not give your child Aspirin as this can cause serious complications
When should I seek medical advice?
- Mild to moderate pain
- Bloody or pus-filled discharge leaking from the ear
- Nausea, vomiting, or consistent dizziness
- Ringing in the ears
- Hearing loss
Go to the Emergency Department if your child:
- Has severe pain in the ear
- Has swelling behind the ear
- Has difficulty in breathing
- Is unable to drink any liquids
- Appears dry and produces less urine
- Has Something in the ear