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Tympanic perforation


Tympanic perforation is an opening (hole or tear) in the wall of the eardrum, the fine fiber membrane located at the middle ear and which forms the separation between the external auditory canal of the ear and the inner ear. A tympanic perforation is most often associated with an infection of the ear, but it can also be the result of an intense noise (jackhammers, explosion...), too much pressure (violent slap, plane trip, diving) or an accident (cotton swab or other object pushed too far into the ear).


It is rare that a torn eardrum does not cause pain or symptoms. But in most cases, and especially if the perforation is acute and occurs suddenly, the pain is sharp and immediate. Hearing loss or tinnitus, false sounds perceived by the patient, may also occur. In the case of otitis or ear infection, a discharge of pus is frequently noticed.


A doctor easily detects a tympanic perforation by a clinical examination of the ear with an otoscope.


The eardrum, if only slightly perforated, will often heal itself in a few weeks and regain its original shape. It should be monitored until healing is complete. More rarely, in the case of chronic or severe lacerations, the eardrum cannot close alone, and will require surgery by an ENT. Tympanoplasty, under general anesthesia, is then performed during a short hospitalization. It is important, during the natural healing of the eardrum, to keep the ear dry and protected from the cold to avoid any risk of infection. It is therefore inappropriate to swim during this period.


To avoid the occurrence of tympanic perforation, it is advised to avoid cleaning ears with cotton swabs. Other causes of tympanic perforation are not really accessible to prevention.