Ruptured or perforated eardrums are usually caused by middle-ear infections or trauma (for example, an object in the ear, a slap on the ear, explosions, or repeated, excessive ear pressure from flying or diving).
If healing does not occur with antibiotics or other non-operative treatment, surgery may be necessary.
Chronic middle ear infections are described as:
- 5 or more ear infections in a year, or
- 3 or more ear infections a year over a two-year period
Signs of chronic ear infections include persistent ear pain, ear drainage, or hearing loss (over a 3-month period).
Review Date 4/13/2020
Updated by: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.