Preparing for your appointment

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 (ENT) 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.