Perforated eardrum

A perforated or burst eardrum is a hole in the eardrum. It'll usually heal within a few weeks and might not need any treatment.

But it's a good idea to see a GP if you think your eardrum has burst, as it can cause problems such as ear infections.

Symptoms of a perforated eardrum

Signs of a perforated eardrum, or an ear infection caused by a perforated eardrum, include:

The symptoms will usually pass once your eardrum has healed or any infection has been treated.

When to see a GP

See a GP if:

Your eardrum will usually heal without treatment, but a GP can check for an infection (which may need treatment) and talk to you about how you can look after your ear.

They'll look into your ear using a small handheld torch with a magnifying lens. The tip of this goes into your ear, but it only goes in a little way and should not hurt.

Things you can do if you have a perforated eardrum

Perforated eardrums do not always need to be treated because they often get better by themselves within a few weeks.

While it heals, the following tips can help you relieve your symptoms and reduce the chances of your ear becoming infected:

Treatments for a perforated eardrum

If you have an ear infection caused by a perforated eardrum, a GP may prescribe antibiotics.

If the hole in your eardrum is big, or does not heal in a few weeks, the GP may refer you to an ear specialist to talk about having surgery to repair a perforated eardrum.

Causes of a perforated eardrum

A hole in the eardrum can be caused by:

The following tips may help you avoid damaging your eardrum:

Find out more about flying if you have a perforated eardrum

Page last reviewed: 11 February 2020
Next review due: 11 February 2023