Perforated eardrum

Symptoms of a perforated eardrum

If you have a perforated eardrum, your hearing may be affected.

The extent of any hearing loss will depend on the size of the hole in your eardrum. A small puncture may only cause a slight loss of hearing, whereas a large puncture is likely to cause greater hearing loss.

The hearing loss is only temporary and your hearing will return once your eardrum has healed.

As well as hearing loss, a perforated eardrum may cause the following symptoms:

  • earache or discomfort
  • a discharge of mucus from your ear
  • ringing or buzzing in your ear (tinnitus)

Risk of infection

The eardrum forms a protective barrier that prevents germs and bacteria from entering your middle ear. Therefore, if you have a perforated eardrum, your risk of developing an ear infection is increased.

If you have an infection of the middle ear, your symptoms may include:

  • severe earache, due to the pressure of the mucus on the eardrum
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • slight hearing loss

Spotting an ear infection in children

Children who have an ear infection may also develop flu-like symptoms, such as vomiting and a lack of energy. Babies with ear infections will be hot and irritable.

Other signs of an ear infection in children and babies are:

  • pulling, tugging or rubbing their ear
  • a high temperature (38C or above)
  • irritability
  • poor feeding
  • restlessness at night
  • coughing
  • runny nose
  • not responding to quiet sounds
  • loss of balance
Last updated: 09 November 2012

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