Types of ear trauma include damage done to the outer, middle and inner ear. Ear trauma can result from listening to loud music, being hit in the ear, or from sticking anything into the ear canal. Trauma can also occur if the middle ear gets infected. The damage to the ear from trauma include hearing loss, which can be permanent or temporary.
A ruptured or burst eardrum is one kind of trauma that can result from inserting a cotton swab or other object into the ear canal. Hitting the ear with a lot of force or over and over again can also cause the eardrum to break. Should the eardrum rupture, it usually is able to repair itself within a few weeks. A person should still see a doctor if he suffers a severe blow to the ear or sticks an object too far into his ear canal, as there may be other damage to the inner ear.
For instance, the bones in the inner ear, called ossicles, can break or be otherwise damaged if a person is hit too hard. An ear infection can also cause damage to the ossicles. Should the bones of the ear be damaged beyond their ability to naturally repair themselves, a person may have to undergo surgery to replace one or all three of the ossicles with artificial ones.
Loud noise and music causes another type of ear trauma, often called acoustic trauma. Listening to loud music over headphones or at concerts can lead to permanent hearing loss, as the hairs within the ear become damaged. Trauma from loud noise is preventable by wearing ear plugs or other ear protection.
Ear trauma can also result from infections of various parts of the ear. Swimmer's ear, or an infection of the ear canal, is a relatively common type of trauma. The infection earns its name because it usually results when a person gets too much water in his ear canal. Exposure to water causes the lipid layer that usually protects the canal from infection and irritation to slip away. Swimmer's ear can also occur if dust and dirt build up in a person's ear canal or if a person sweats a lot.
Infections of the middle ear are another type of ear trauma. People tend to get ear infections when they are battling a cold, since fluid builds up in the ear canal when the eustachian tube, which runs from the ear to the throat, is blocked. The trapped fluid provides a nice breeding ground for bacteria. An infection of the ear canal can lead to temporary hearing loss. Many ear infections clear up on their own, though some require antibiotics.