Ear injuries

Perforated ear drum

A perforated eardrum occurs when the eardrum becomes damaged by means of the development of a hole or tears in the eardrum.

Causes of a perforated eardrum

There are many possible causes of a perforated eardrum; these include a direct blow to the ear, middle ear infections, sudden loud noises and extreme changes in air pressure.

Treatment for a perforated ear drum

Most cases will not require any treatment as the eardrum will usually heal on its own over the course of about 6 weeks. If the perforation has been caused by an infection in the middle ear, antibiotic medication will usually be prescribed. If the eardrum does not heal after 8 weeks, a procedure known as tympanoplasty may be carried out; this repairs the damaged eardrum. In some cases, the eardrum may never heal; however, this does not always produce negative side-effects and most people are able to live a completely normal life.

Otitis externa

What is otitis externa?

Otitis externa refers to a swelling of the ear canal.

Causes of otitis externa

Otitis externa may be caused by a number of different factors; these include skin irritations, allergies, regular swimming and hot weather. This condition is commonly known in the sporting world as ‘swimmer’s ear’; swimmers are up to 5 times more likely to suffer from otitis externa; this is attributed to the large amounts of water that pass through the ear canal, which can contribute to infection.

Symptoms of otitis externa

Common symptoms include itchiness, difficulties with hearing, discharge and pain in the ear.

Treatment for otitis externa

The most common treatments for otitis externa are ear drops and ear sprays; these help to ease swelling and itchiness and usually contain antibiotic which combats infection. Antibiotic medication may also be prescribed and analgesic medicines may be recommended to ease pain.

Preventing otitis externa

As a general rule no objects should be inserted into the ear canal; this reduces the possibility of infection and protects the components of the ear. Wearing a swimming cap can reduce the quantity of water that can seep into the ears which will also help to reduce the likelihood of infection.

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