A perforated tympanic membrane is a hole in one’s eardrum. There are many possible causes of a perforated eardrum. An ear infection, changes in pressure from traveling or scuba diving, exposure to a loud noise, such as an explosion, or a foreign object, such as a Q-tip, could all cause a hole in the eardrum.
Symptoms of a perforated eardrum could be a sharp pain, a “pop”, ear drainage, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), or a loss of hearing. These symptoms are often temporary, however may persist if the hole remains present. If an ear infection is the cause of the hole, the ear will drain the infected fluid and is most often treated with antibiotic ear drops.
Having an audiogram would the first step in diagnostics to determine if a hole is present and if it is affecting hearing. The hole will usually heal on it’s own in a few weeks time. If the hole has not healed, your provider will continue to observe over a period of time. A repeat audiogram in a couple months following the initial onset would be recommended as well as biannual or annual monitoring. Complications from a persistent hole could be water entering the ear, hearing loss, tinnitus, or potential development of a cholesteatoma, which is a skin cyst in the middle ear.
At some point, surgical repair of the hole may be necessary, especially if complications arise. This procedure is called a Tympanoplasty.
If you are concerned that you may have a perforated tympanic membrane, call our office to schedule a consult with one of our providers (616) 994-2770.