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How To Treat a Busted Eardrum

Updated on January 20, 2019

What To Do If You Have An Ear Injury

I recently sought ways to treat my ear upon noticing signs that it may have been injured, and so I asked others about remedies I could try at home to cure it because I didn't have the time to get to a hospital, (well, okay, I'm just a coward and lazy), but I was bombarded with very enlightening feedback that immediately fixed my problem and set my mind at ease:

"See your doctor ASAP about it."

"No home remedy for a ruptured need to get to a doctor...or hospital."

"Don't worry. Significant advances have been made with hearing aids. You can barely see them."

"That doesn't just happen out of the blue. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts you inserted a Q-Tip or some other object and ended up damaging your eardrum. So that was your first major mistake. The second one is not going to a doctor immediately. Unless you want to end up deaf in one ear, stop farting around and go to an urgent care clinic."

So naturally, this advice was a bit disappointing. Part of me was actually looking forward to filtering out the stuff that I hear on a regular basis, ("Your booty looks too big in that," "Would you like to take a survey?" "Hand over your money you %&*#@$!") so oh well...that's the way it goes.

But for real though, I noticed glops of blood in my left ear and was suffering from spells of dizziness and nausea and a persistent fever and hearing loss and pain and the ringing in my ear sounded kinda creepy like a fire alarm going off so I skipped my lazy, cowardly bum over to the nearest emergency room immediately. Well, okay, after three or four days. (Sorry, but hospitals and I just don't get along. Given the choice, I would prefer to be a bank hostage, or to take public transportation during rush hour traffic...and hmmm, maybe prison would also be nice just about now). Oh, and as a disclaimer: I absolutely was not sticking cotton swabs in my ears. I was using pens, paper clips, toothpicks, bobby pins, match sticks and coat hangers because they are considerably more satisfying to scratch itchy ears with than with Q-Tips so I don't see why folks always blame me, especially when they do it too.

My Hospital Visit

At the emergency room, the doctor irrigated my ear and reported to me that he found minor trauma and scarring, which was described as "tympanic membrane perforation" (like I know what that means) and that my eardrum would generally heal on its own, possibly after a few weeks, with little to no long-term hearing loss, (shucks).

"So my busted eardrum should be cool as long as I take these eardrops?" I asked, reading the prescription. "Ofaflax, oxyppfathhpfftt, whatever...?"

"Ofloxacin," he corrected. "And the correct term for it is not 'busted', it's 'torn', 'ruptured', or 'perforated' and unless you want to lose your sense of hearing in the future, be more careful, and stop using objects to penetrate your ear canals, and then you will never have to worry about getting a busted, perforated, eardrum, ever again."

A giggle collected at the back of my throat as I struggled to stifle a laugh at his near misuse of the terminology himself; panicky, I faked a major coughing attack instead. The doc frowned impatiently, hands on his hips, but fortunately saw right through me and had enough mercy on me to simply schedule a follow-up appointment with my local physician and immediately send me straight home. (I know he was happy to be rid of me).

Home Care

The following are instructions I received from the doc to continue to treat my ear at home, however, it is always best to receive medical advice directly from a physician.

  • Keep your ear dry while it heals. Do not let your head go under water. Do not swim or dive until your doctor says it is okay. Before you take a bath or shower, do one of these things to keep water out of your ear:
  1. Put a waterproof earplug in your ear.
  2. Put petroleum jelly all over a cotton ball. Put the cotton ball in your ear.
  • Take medicines only as told by your doctor.
  • Avoid blowing your nose if possible. If you blow your nose, do it gently.
  • Continue your normal activities after your eardrum heals. Your doctor will tell you when your eardrum has healed.
  • Talk to your doctor before you fly on an airplane.
  • Keep all doctor follow-up visits as told by your doctor. This is important.
  • If you have a fever, get help.
  • If you have blood or yellowish-white fluid (pus) coming from your ear, feel dizzy or off-balance, feel nauseous, or are vomiting, or have more pain, get help right away.

Future Prevention

If you suffer from itchy ear canals or are in the habit of using objects to scratch them, don't be stupid like me, (I am sticking some bunched-together Q-Tips into my still healing ear as we speak), but instead try pouring alcohol or vinegar directly into your ear to help soothe the itching, (dilute with water if it feels too harsh). And I sometimes find subliminals like in the YouTube video posted below helpful. I don't know how much of the effects are actually real or simply from placebo, but at least I find such vids seem to bring relief, however I'm also kind of weird anyway, so...oh, and of course, I've known about natural treatments like these for a while, but I'm just stubborn and often lapse back into my childhood habits, but again, it's always best to get the OK from a doctor before you embark on any new health treatment or routine. To do otherwise is just earresponsible. (Okay, that was bad. I know).


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