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Ear conditions

Perforated eardrum

A perforated (burst) eardrum is a hole in the eardrum. It’ll often heal by itself within over 2 months or so.

See your GP if you think your eardrum has burst, as it can cause problems like ear infections and can sometimes need treatment.


Symptoms of a burst eardrum can include:

  • hearing loss
  • earache
  • itching in your ear
  • tinnitus – noises like ringing or buzzing in your ear
  • fluid leaking from your ear
  • a high temperature.

It’s important not to get water or any other liquid in your ear while your eardrum is burst, as this can cause an ear infection.


A perforated eardrum can be caused by:

  • ear infections, such as otitis media
  • injury to the eardrum, caused by, for example, a severe blow to the ear or poking things in your ear
  • sudden loud noise, such as an explosion, accompanied by a pressure change
  • rapid changes in air pressure, such as when changing altitude in an aeroplane, or when scuba diving.


A perforated eardrum normally heals on its own within 2 months.

Your GP may decide to give you antibiotics to prevent or treat an ear infection while the eardrum is healing.

If the eardrum is not healing by itself, you might need an operation to surgically repair it.

See the NHS website to find out when to see a GP and what you can do to reduce the chances of getting an ear infection while your eardrum heals.