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Audiometry Test

When they occur together, vertigo and tinnitus are often associated with hearing problems such as a perforated eardrum.

First things first, we have an eardrum – it’s a thin, semi-transparent, cone-shaped membrane of 8 to 10mm in diameter that separates our outer and middle ears. 

Our eardrum plays an important role in our hearing ability. Soundwaves after entering the ear canal, hit on the eardrum to produce vibrations, which get tiny bones in our middle ear moving. Our cochlea receives and sends these signals to the brain, where it interprets them as sound. 

Our eardrum also keeps our middle ear free from dirt, debris, bacteria and other foreign substances, and protects against infection and injury. When our eardrum becomes ruptured – the condition is also known as a hole in the  eardrum – and not treated in time, we could end up losing our hearing altogether. 

How a hole in your eardrum happened

For many cases, the cause is otitis media, an infection in the middle ear due to fluid build-up. 

Injury to your eardrum can leave it ruptured too. A heavy blow to your ear, for example, can dislodge or damage your delicate inner ear bits. The presence of small objects, for example, a cotton swab, also can puncture the eardrum.  

Another cause of ruptured eardrum is loud noise. Sudden and overpowering sound waves from explosions or gunshots can leave tears in the eardrum and affect our hearing. 

Imbalances between air pressure in the middle ear and that in the environment – frequently due to scuba diving or air travel – can stress and hurt the eardrum. 

The hole in your eardrum may heal by itself - or it may require surgery

Antibiotic drops are often prescribed for infections. Sometimes, an eardrum patch (usually made of paper) may be applied over the hole to hasten healing. 

A surgical procedure known as myringoplasty, however, is recommended to patients with a persistent/recurrent ruptured eardrum. It offers successful outcomes among children and adults, having closed eardrum holes 9 times out of 10 as well as reported improved hearing. 

What to expect at your ENT consultation

Your ENT specialist may perform one or a combination of the following: 

  • Laboratory tests to detect any bacterial infection
  • Tuning fork evaluation to check for hearing loss
  • Tympanometry to assess your eardrum’s response to changes in the air
  • Audiology examination to measure your ability to hear different volumes and pitches

5 things to know about myringoplasty

  • This procedure is performed under general anaesthesia. 
  • It involves an incision either in front of (or behind) the ear to harvest tissue to be used as graft material. This tissue graft is placed over to close the perforation in the eardrum.
  • Soft sponge-like gel foam is placed in the external ear canal.
  • The incision is closed with sutures.
  • A pressure bandage is applied over the ear to protect the site.