It can be a terrifying and even painful experience for some to suddenly experience hearing loss and not know why. To make matters worse, hearing loss can be a result of a large swath of complications, with new causes such as neurological disorders or technology like vaping, discovered all of the time. Other than seeking out the help of a medical professional, how can one determine whether they may be suffering from a simple fix, such as earwax buildup, or a painful and much more serious ruptured eardrum? Get to the bottom of your hearing loss with our list of 4 signs that you may have ruptured your eardrum.
What Exactly Does It Mean to “Rupture your Eardrum”?
Your “eardrum”, also known as the tympanic membrane, is an extremely thin tissue that separates the ear canal from the middle ear. Though a very small part of your body, your eardrum is incredibly important. In order for us to hear and understand the sounds around us, soundwaves travel through the ear canal and hit the eardrum, causing a vibration that eventually ends up in the inner ear and finally your brain. These vibrations are translated into the sounds we hear every day, demonstrating just how a tiny membrane can have such a gigantic job to do!
So what happens when this membrane is damaged? Being as thin as it is, the skin can easily tear or “rupture”, which creates a hole in the membrane, also known as a tympanic membrane perforation. This can lead to the hearing loss that you are experiencing, infections of the middle ear, chronic drainage, and even cysts.
Four Warning Signs
Hearing loss can be the result of many different things, ranging from a serious infection to something as simple as listening to your music too loudly. How do you know the hearing loss you are experiencing is from a ruptured eardrum? Here are four signs that may point in that direction.
1. Ear Infection
Have you suffered from an ear infection recently? Severe or even repeated mild infections can cause your eardrum to rupture. If you have experienced pain or a build-up of fluid in the ear, you may have acute otitis media to blame for your ruptured eardrum and resulting hearing loss.
2. Trauma or Injury
Direct injury to the head or ear can cause the thin membrane to tear, whether it be an accidental injury or sports-related. If you know you’ve taken a recent hit or two, it may be time to sit the next few plays out; At least until your eardrum has healed.
3. Loud Noises
Like your hearing, your eardrum needs to be protected from exposure to high volumes. An explosion of sound can be too much for the membrane to handle, causing it to rupture instead of vibrating. If you’ve attended a loud event recently, your hearing loss may be due to this. Next time your favorite song comes on, turn down the volume. Your hearing and eardrums will thank you.
4. Inserting Objects Into Ear
Most of us like to take pride in our hygiene, and our ears are no different. But in fact, your ears are extremely efficient at self-cleaning, only requiring help in the direst of circumstances. But If you simply cannot resist, a cotton swab or even a matchstick (It’s been done!) can easily go too far, resulting in a punctured eardrum and hearing loss.