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Ear drum, perforated

The erosion or rupture of the ear drum.  Perforation of the ear drum causes intense but brief pain.  There can also be a slight bleeding, a discharge from the ear, and a reduction in hearing abilities. 

Causes

Most frequently, perforation takes place as a result of build up of pus in the middle ear due to acute otitis media (middle ear infection).  Perforation can also be associated with cholesteatoma (accumulation of debris and skin cells in the ear).  Another common cause is injury, for example from insertation of an object into the ear, barotraumas (damage caused by pressure changes), loud noise or a fracture to the base of the skull.  In a few cases, a doctor can deliberately puncture the eardrum to drain pus from the middle ear.

Diagnosis and treatment

The condition is confirmed by examination of the ear.  To assess hearing loss hearing tests may also be performed.

Analgesic drugs can help to relieve any pain and antibiotic drugs can be prescribed to prevent or treat infection.  Many perforations heal extremely quickly, usually within a month.  But, if the perforation fails to heal, myringoplasty (an operation to repair the eardrum) can be required.


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