What is a ruptured eardrum?

A ruptured eardrum is a hole or tear in the skin-like tissue that separates the ear canal and middle ear. The eardrum is the part of the ear that receives vibrations from sound to allow hearing. Ruptured eardrums are most common in children.

What are the symptoms of a ruptured eardrum?

A ruptured eardrum is often caused by a middle ear infection. With an infection fluid develops behind the drum creating pain and discomfort. This fluid buildup can create a small rupture of the drum allowing fluid to drain from the ear, appearing as pus. Bleeding may also occur. The ruptured eardrum may also cause temporary hearing loss as a result of the hole in the drum and the drainage.

What are the causes of a ruptured eardrum?

  • Ear infection within the middle ear (acute otitis media)
  • Injury to the side of the head as a result of a sudden and forceful strike to the head
  • Sticking objects in the ear that travel too far down in the ear canal and can puncture the eardrum, such as a cotton swab or bobby pin
  • Sudden change in air pressure
  • Skull fracture
  • Loud noise caused by an explosion

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