Ruptured Eardrum: Symptoms & Signs

A ruptured or perforated eardrum (tympanic membrane) occurs when there is a hole or tear in the tympanic membrane that separates the middle ear from the ear canal.

Signs and symptoms of a ruptured eardrum can include

Other associated symptoms and signs include

Pain may not be present if the cause is not an infection.

Causes of a ruptured eardrum

Relatively common causes of a ruptured eardrum include

  • middle ear infections,
  • trauma from car accidents,
  • sports injuries, and
  • putting foreign objects (like a cotton swab or a bobby pin) in the ear.

Other ruptured eardrum symptoms and signs


Ear infection or acute otitis media is an infection of the middle ear. See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 8/11/2020
Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.