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 5/25/2016
Updated by: Sumana Jothi, MD, specialist in laryngology, Assistant Clinical Professor, UCSF Otolaryngology, NCHCS VA, SFVA, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.