If you have signs or symptoms of a perforated eardrum, you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or general practitioner. However, your doctor may refer you to a specialist in ear, nose and throat disorders (ENT physician or otolaryngologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
Make a list ahead of time that you can share with your doctor. Your list should include:
- Symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to hearing loss, fluid discharge or other ear-related symptoms
- Relevant events that may be related to your ear problems, such as a history of ear infections, recent injuries or recent air travel
- Medications, including any vitamins or supplements you're taking
- Questions for your doctor
If you think you have signs or symptoms of a ruptured eardrum, you may want to ask your doctor some of the following questions.
- Do I have a ruptured eardrum?
- What else could be causing my hearing loss and other symptoms?
- If I have a ruptured eardrum, what do I need to do to protect my ear during the healing process?
- What type of follow-up appointments will I need?
- At what point do we need to consider other treatments?
Don't hesitate to ask other questions you have.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
- When did you first experience symptoms?
- Did you have symptoms such as pain or vertigo that cleared up?
- Have you had ear infections?
- Have you been exposed to loud sounds?
- Have you been swimming or diving recently?
- Have you recently flown?
- Have you had head injuries?
- Do you put anything in your ear to clean it?
What you can do in the meantime
If you think that you have a ruptured eardrum, be careful to keep your ears dry to prevent infection. Don't go swimming. To keep water out of your ear when showering or bathing, use a moldable, waterproof silicone earplug or put a cotton ball coated with petroleum jelly in your outer ear.
Don't put medication drops in your ear unless your doctor prescribes them specifically for infection related to your perforated eardrum.
Jan. 04, 2014
- Perforated eardrum. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/perforatedEardrum.cfm. Accessed Oct. 7, 2013.
- Evans AK, et al. Evaluation and management of middle ear trauma. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 7, 2013.
- Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 7, 2013.
- Vernick DM. Ear barotrauma. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Have Wise Ears for life. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/wiseears.aspx. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.