Your eardrum is a thin membrane (like skin) inside your ear. It's stretched tight like a drum and vibrates when sound hits it. The vibrations go into your middle and inner ear and are turned into nerve signals. The nerve signals go to your brain so you hear the sound. Your eardrum also keeps water and dirt out to protect the tiny bones inside your ear.
An eardrum perforation is a hole in your eardrum. It's also called a ruptured eardrum.
Causes of an eardrum perforation include:
People sometimes try to remove ear wax with a cotton swab or other object, such as a bobby pin, or pencil. Don't do this, because it'll just push the earwax deeper in your ear and may injure your eardrum.
Your symptoms depend on what caused the perforation.
An ear infection that perforates actually relieves the pain of the ear infection. An ear infection is painful because fluid or pus builds up behind your eardrum. When your eardrum gets a hole in it (perforates), the fluid drains out, lessening your pain.
If pressure change or poking something in your ear caused the perforation, you will have:
You may not have any complications or symptoms after an eardrum perforation. But some people have:
Noise in your ear (tinnitus)
A feeling like you're spinning or moving (vertigo)
If water or dirt gets through the perforation, you might get an ear infection.