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Perforated ear drum - Definition


A perforated ear drum is when an opening (hole or tear) is made in the tympanic membrane, or ear drum, which is the fibrous membrane in the middle ear separating the external ear canal from the inner ear. This condition most often occurs in cases of ear infection, or otitis, but can also be caused by loud noises (jackhammer, explosion...), excessive pressure (violent blow, flight, deep-sea diving), or a self-inflicted accident (Q-tip or other type of object pushed too deep into the ear, for example). This condition often causes intense pain, and fluid can be observed leaking from the ear, along with impaired hearing. The perforation can be examined using an otoscope. If it is simply a small hole, it can heal itself, but sometimes it is necessary to perform a surgical replacement of the membrane by tympanoplasty.