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Ear problems

Perforated eardrum

A perforated or burst eardrum is a hole in the eardrum. It’ll usually heal within a few weeks and might not need any treatment.

But see your GP if you think your eardrum has burst, as it can cause problems like ear infections.


Symptoms of a burst eardrum can include:

  • sudden hearing loss
  • earache in your ear
  • itching in your ear
  • tinnitus – noises like ringing or buzzing in your ear
  • fluid leaking from your ear
  • a high temperature.

It’s important not to get water or any other liquid in your ear while your eardrum is burst, as this can cause an infection in the middle ear.


A perforated eardrum can be caused by:

  • serious ear infections, such as untreated otitis media
  • injury to the eardrum, caused by, for example, a severe blow to the ear or poking things in your ear
  • sudden loud noise, such as an explosion, accompanied by a pressure change
  • rapid changes in air pressure, such as when changing altitude in an aeroplane, or when scuba diving.


A perforated eardrum normally heals on its own within two months.

For more serious damage, usually following repeated episodes of otitis media, you might need an operation called a myringoplasty, where a tissue graft is used to seal up the hole.

See the NHS website to find out when to see a GP and what you can do to reduce the chances of your ear becoming infected while your eardrum heals.