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What Is a Popped Eardrum?

Ear pain may be a sign of a popped eardrum.
When a person's eardrum becomes torn, the condition is known as a popped eardrum.
Scuba divers often pop their eardrums as they descend or ascend.
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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A popped eardrum, which is also known as a ruptured or busted eardrum, is an injury where the eardrum is torn in some way. There are a wide variety of things that can cause this injury. Some of them involve foreign objects entering the ear, while others involve changes in air pressure. The symptoms usually include a temporary decrease in hearing, ear drainage, pain, and sometimes dizziness. People will generally recover from a popped eardrum if they follow a few simple precautions, but in some cases, doctors may need to perform surgeries or prescribe certain medications.

A very common way for a popped eardrum to happen is when someone hears an extremely loud noise. This can vibrate the eardrum too aggressively and cause it to actually tear. Sometimes a popped eardrum will also happen when a person has a very sudden change in his surrounding air pressure, such as when diving underwater. If someone is struck forcefully enough in the ear, that can also send a burst of air towards the eardrum and pop it. Other people injure their eardrums while using long objects to clean earwax.

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The initial effect of a popped eardrum is generally an earache. Another common immediate symptom is bleeding from the ear and drainage of other fluids. People will often hear sounds, including rushing sounds, and they might also find that they don’t hear very well out of the damaged ear. If the damage is fairly severe, people will often have temporary problems with their balance.

After a popped eardrum, doctors usually take a few precautions to make sure the person’s inner ear doesn’t get a bacterial infection. This would generally include the use of antibiotics for a short time following the injury. It’s also usually important that people avoid getting any kind of water in their ears because it can get very deep in the ear canal once the eardrum is busted.

The eardrum can heal from a very severe injury without any other help. In some rare cases, the injury may be severe enough that it can’t heal. When that happens, it’s possible for surgeons to get inside the ear and repair it surgically. The normal time for the eardrum to heal without help is about eight weeks, although that can vary a bit depending on the severity of the rupture.

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