Perforated Eardrum

A perforated eardrum is a hole or tear in the eardrum (tympanic membrane) caused by injury or infection.

A perforated eardrum is a relatively common condition. Most perforated eardrums will heal by themselves without any intervention. However, a perforated eardrum may need treatment for a number of reasons; to prevent water entering the middle ear (this may be the cause of the infection); to reduce the number of ear infections being experienced or to improve hearing.

A perforated eardrum may be caused by a middle ear infection bursting through the eardrum, or by a trauma (such as a head injury or an object poked in the ear), or by a sudden loud noise (such as an explosion), or by changes in air pressure (while diving or flying for example).

A perforated eardrum can cause a variety of symptoms which will vary in their severity depending on the size of the hole or tear.


Hearing loss is usually the key symptom of a perforated eardrum. The degree of hearing loss will depend on the size of the perforation, but hearing normally returns when the perforation has healed successfully.

Other symptoms may be experienced, particularly if the perforation is caused by a middle ear infection. These symptoms may include pain or discomfort within the ear, a discharge of fluid or pus from the affected ear, tinnitus (a buzzing or ringing sound in your ear) and a raised body temperature.

If the perforation does not heal it may be repaired by undergoing the operation - Myringoplasty or Tympanoplasty

  • hearing loss
  • earache
  • discharge of fluid or pus
  • high body temperature
  • tinnitus (buzzing or ringing in your ear)

Your doctor will initially assess your condition by a visual examination using a medical device (otoscope or auriscope) to look into your ears. You will need to see a specialist for further treatment.

What next?

If you are suffering with a suspected condition, you should seek the advice of your doctor who will be able to refer you to Benenden Hospital for diagnosis and treatment.

There are four ways to access treatment at Benenden Hospital which include self-funding, using private medical insurance or your Benenden membership, or through the NHS e-Referral scheme.