Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

A ruptured eardrum usually heals on its own within weeks. In some cases, healing takes months. Until your doctor tells you that your ear is healed, protect it by doing the following:

  • Keep your ear dry. Place a waterproof silicone earplug or cotton ball coated with petroleum jelly in your ear when showering or bathing.
  • Refrain from cleaning your ears. Give your eardrum time to heal completely.
  • Avoid blowing your nose. The pressure created when blowing your nose can damage your healing eardrum.

Prevention

Follow these tips to avoid a ruptured or perforated eardrum:

  • Get treatment for middle ear infections. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of middle ear infection, including earache, fever, nasal congestion and reduced hearing. Children with a middle ear infection often rub or pull on their ears. Seek prompt evaluation from your primary care doctor to prevent potential damage to the eardrum.
  • Protect your ears during flight. If possible, don't fly if you have a cold or an active allergy that causes nasal or ear congestion. During takeoffs and landings, keep your ears clear with pressure-equalizing earplugs, yawning or chewing gum. Or use the Valsalva maneuver — gently blowing, as if blowing your nose, while pinching your nostrils and keeping your mouth closed. Don't sleep during ascents and descents.
  • Keep your ears free of foreign objects. Never attempt to dig out excess or hardened earwax with items such as a cotton swab, paper clip or hairpin. These items can easily tear or puncture your eardrum. Teach your children about the damage that can be done by putting foreign objects in their ears.
  • Guard against excessive noise. Protect your ears from unnecessary damage by wearing protective earplugs or earmuffs in your workplace or during recreational activities if loud noise is present.
Nov. 10, 2016
References
  1. Perforated eardrum. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/content/perforated-eardrum. Accessed Sept. 19, 2016.
  2. Evans AK, et al. Evaluation and management of middle ear trauma. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 19, 2016.
  3. Lalwani AK. Temporal bone trauma. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Sept. 19, 2016.
  4. Vernick DM. Ear barotrauma. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 19, 2016.
  5. Traumatic perforation of the tympanic membrane. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/middle-ear-and-tympanic-membrane-disorders/traumatic-perforation-of-the-tympanic-membrane. Accessed Sept. 20, 2016.