A perforated (burst) eardrum is a hole or tear in your eardrum. It usually gets better on its own within 2 months, but you may need treatment such as antibiotics.
Check if you have a perforated eardrum
Symptoms of a perforated eardrum usually start suddenly after an:
- ear infection
- injury (such as getting hit on your ear)
- loud noise
- sudden change in air pressure (such as flying on a plane)
Most of the time symptoms affect 1 ear and include:
- hearing loss
- a ringing or buzzing sound in your ear (tinnitus)
- earache or ear pain
- itching in your ear
- clear fluid, blood or pus leaking from your ear
- feeling dizzy
- a high temperature
Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:
- you have sudden hearing loss in 1 or both ears
- your hearing has been getting worse over the last few days or weeks
- you have hearing loss along with other symptoms, such as earache or discharge coming out of the ear
It might not be anything serious, but it's best to get help as it may need to be treated quickly.
You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.
Treatment for a perforated eardrum
A perforated eardrum usually gets better on its own within 2 months and your hearing returns to normal.
A GP may prescribe antibiotics if you have an ear infection, or to stop you getting an ear infection while your eardrum heals.
Sometimes, surgery to repair the eardrum (myringoplasty) may be needed if the eardrum is not healing by itself.
Go back to your GP if your symptoms have not started to improve after a few weeks.
Things you can do if you have a perforated eardrum
There are some things you can do to help heal a perforated eardrum and ease symptoms.
do not go swimming or get your ear wet until your eardrum heals
do not put anything inside your ear, such as cotton buds or eardrops (unless a doctor recommends them)
try not to blow your nose too hard because this can damage your eardrum as it heals
Flying with a perforated eardrum
It's safe to fly if you have a perforated eardrum. But if you've had surgery to repair a perforated eardrum (myringoplasty), do not fly until you're told it's safe to.
Page last reviewed: 19 April 2023
Next review due: 19 April 2026