Ear Drum Rupture

Hello Everyone:

I got sucker punched on my right ear. I went to the doctor and she looked at my eardrum and said that it is pretty badly ruptured. I have never had any problems with ear infections in the past, and it has been 8 days since the incident… my hearing is still about 30% normal. I am just curious as to the general healing pattern that I could expect…

I am seeing an ENT 3 weeks after the incident and will get professional help, obviously… but i just wanted to know:

  1. If I have never had issues with my ears before, what are the chances that a badly ruptured ear drum will heal itself in due time?

  2. How long can I expect to be back to relatively normal hearing?

  3. How do I know if there is cochella, ossicle, or neve damage? Would I even be able to hear anything? Currently, when I hold a phone up to my bad ear, I can hear the dial tone still… it is just muffled and quiet.

  4. I have not had an ear infection so far… will this help my ear heal?

  5. Any advice? Any anecdotes saying this will get better? I am terrified that my hearing will never fully return and that I will have this the rest of my life. I was sucekr punched! So unreal… there was no bleeding or bruising around my face, but my ear drum is badly ruptured.

I am a singer in a band… this is hands down the worst experience of all time for me. I just pray and hope to god that it will heal itself. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks everyone,


Can you get in to see the ENT sooner? Did you tell them it was a traumatic perforation?

  1. The membrane that separates the Outer ear (ear canal) from the Middle ear is called the tympanic membrane. That is what ruptured. They will usually heal on their own in time.

  2. I’ve seen ruptured TM’s heal in a few days to weeks/months. If it was a major perforation it will probably take awhile to heal…can’t really put a time-frame on it for you. sorry.

  3. You won’t be able to tell if there was any damage to the cochlea or inner ear until a hearing test is done. After that they’ll be able to tell if the loss is conductive only (meaning the big hole is effecting the conduction of sound through the ear) or if it’s sensory-neural (indicating damage to the cochlea). The nerve is fine.

  4. Any time there is infection, it complicates things and slows down the healing process so it’s good that there is no infection. I would do everything you can to keep water out of your ear.

  5. I’ve never had a perforation but being in an ENT office I see a lot of them and in nearly all cases hearing returns to normal once everything is healed up as long as there hasn’t been any damage to the cochlea as well.

Like I said, I’d try to get into the ENT sooner than 3 weeks. Did you have any dizziness or anything when you had the perforation? That is also important.

Hello and Thank you so much for your reply:

1. I think it is safe to say that it is a majorly ruptured ear drum. When the general practicioner looked at it, she kind of gasped and said… “oh yeah… your ear drum is badly damaged. You may need surgury on that.” It quite literally feels like someone poured concrete in my ear… or like I have an earplug in my right ear. It also feels very fragile, like there is a hole in my ear and it just feels very vulnerable… hard to explain. With that said, since its a major perforation, I feel like my healing time frame will be months. I just feel it in my bones… like its a long road to recovery from here.

  1. I will make sure to mention that I am nervous about cochella damage and to have them focus on determining if it is damaged (i am sure they will be fully invested into finding that out… won’t hurt to mention it though). So there is no way to determine if my coachella is damaged with all of these facts:
    a. I had no drainage after the incident. No blood, no liquid of any kind.
    b. I can hear out of the bad ear, just a very muffled sound.
    c. there is no infection going on so far (9 days since incident).
    d. no real dizziness.

I certainly felt a bit dizzy the next day, but the doctor thinks that was a concussion symptom. I have since not had too much balance problems, or have I had any vertigo-like dizziness spells. It just feels like my equalibirum is way off in the sense of hearing, not so much balance. Feels like my left ear is overworked and overcompensating. tough to deal with.

  1. How will the audiology test determine if I have inner-ear damage? I am just curious…

  2. Do traumatic ear injuries tend to damage the inner ear more than an ear infection or something like that?

I will call the ENT today and try and speed up my appointment on 2/14/12. I mean… I was seeing a GPracticioner and she was not too concerned scheduling my ENT appointment 3 weeks after the incident. She cited taht by letting it be 3 weeks, there will be ample time to let the ear heal on its own, and so taht the ENT could tell me whether or not it was healing properly or not… if its not, then I have to get surgury probably.

Hands down… this is the worst experince of my life. I have to now spend 1000s of dollars to get this fixed, out of pocket, and then I’ll have to sue an acquaintance for sucker punching me. I am a singer in a band… its like cutting off the arm of a golfer, a painter, a violinist… its absurd the suffering I am going through right now. I appreciate this website as people can relate to my story and help me through it.

I am holding on to the fact that if its just a perforation (major or not), that it should heal in due time. If there is inner ear damage and I am going to be deaf forever, I don’t know how I’ll react… it would devestate me to the point of Beethovan’s misery.

Thank you again for your reply… i really really appreciate your insight.




I was able to re-schedule my audiology test for tomorrow 02/01/2012 (Wed) evening and I kept my physical exam with the ENT for 02/14/2012…

I at least will be able to determine the extent of the damage to the inner ear tomorrow night. I am praying to god that its something that I can overcome.

Well a blow to the head can result in a ruptured TM but if there was enough force it could push the entire ossicular chain inward potentially damaging the cochlea with the force of the stapes going into the oval window. It’s not terribly common but depending on how you were injured and the way the force was transmitted it’s possible. It sounds like the TM took the brunt of the force, but having some imbalance/dizziness even if it was minor, is of a little concern to me.

The way we know what kind of hearing loss you have (differential diagnosis) is by completing a hearing test via 2 different sound transmission methods. First we test hearing using headphones (over the ear or in the ear) and get your thresholds (softest sound you can hear) that way. Then we test hearing using a bone oscillator (funny-looking headband-thing) which bypasses the outer/middle ear and transmits the sound directly to the cochlea via bone conduction. If your hearing via the headphones is bad enough, they might have to use a noise in the non-test ear to isolate the ear they are trying to obtain results for. For conductive hearing losses which are usually what ruptured TM’s result in, when we test hearing using the bone oscillator, hearing will be better (up to 60dB)than when the sound has to travel through the ear canal and middle ear. If your hearing is the same using both the headphones and the bone oscillator, then that shows us that somewhere there has been damage to the cochlea and even if the rupture heals, your hearing probably won’t get too much better than it is at that moment (again, not the norm).

Most commonly on testing we find a hearing loss in the lower frequencies that improves as pitch gets higher with bone conduction thresholds remaining in the normal range (a LF CHL). As the hole heals or after it’s repaired, the low frequency conductive hearing loss goes away and hearing returns to normal.

I am sure it seems very devastating now, but the brain is a very plastic object and even if there was some permanent damage (which is unlikely) your brain will adapt to it.

I definitely believe that getting in before the 14th is ideal. The GP might not have thought it was a big deal but any time there’s a traumatic event like that to the ear, having it treated sooner rather than later is preferable. Until they do that hearing test there’s no way to know what kind of hearing loss you have. Assuming it’s conductive given your livelihood was not the best course of treatment, IMHO.

Hi Tim,

How did the appointment go? I am still trying to get my hearing back after a fall last winter. No eardrum damage, the ossicular chain was surgically repaired and I still don’t hear well. I certainly hope you have a much better outcome than mine!!

Hello Everyone:

I went to the doctor last wednesday evening and had my audiology test done. From what I gathered, and pending my appt with the ENT on 2/14/12, the doctor said that there is ample evidence suggesting there was no damage to the ossicular or chochlear structures.

I had to turn up the voluem levels (about 2 volume notches – not sure the tech term, I don’t have my report in front of me) for the lower frequency pitches (the first two frequencies tested)… but the rest of the pitches, my damaged ear were able to pick up at below the 20 db. level.

He then put the bone oscilator on my ear, and my bad ear was able to hear jsut as well, and better, than when I had the hearing devices put in my ears.

My word recognition was great… I only missed one word (I said “youth” when it was “use”).

So… from what the audiologest told me… and suggesting that after I see the doc on 2/14… there is no evidence of ossicular damage or nerve damage.

Moreover, when he looked at the right ear, he noted that the perforation was pretty small and it looked like it was healing. And that’s a good sign, cuz when i saw the general doctor, she looked at it and saiid it was pretty severely ruptured… meaning it has at least healed well over the first week and a half.

The audiologist disloged a ton of ear wax in my bad ear, and I was suprised at how much better I was able to hear because of it… I assume it was there to keep infections out… but once it was dislodged, i was able to hear better.

I still have times when my ear is very sore and feels like its repairing itself, but ever sice the audilogist told me that there is very good evidence suggesting no ossicular damage, my hearing has improved a lot. It was definatly a mind over matter sort of thing… but also… I think it just needed 15 days to begin to heal to a point where my hearing wasn’t so bad.

He told me that since I have lived 24 years with perfect hearing, that when I sustained an injury that took away some of my hearing, it FELT worse than it actually was simply because “it is all relative.”

But apparently my hearing is still in good working order… its just I have an perforated ear drum and it is going to take a month to get back to normal. The lower frequencies are pretty tough to hear still, but the overall disoriented feeling… the feeling of concrete in my ear… that feeling of “swimmers ear” has drastically decreased, and it am very very blessed to not have any other major ear damage. I thank God for that, big time.

But overall… I am back to about 80% hearing… and compared to the 20% hearing I FELT i had for 10 days post-trauma… 80% feels amazingly nice. Again… mentally… its nice to know that its just the eardrum and it will heal eventually. I am ok with letting it heal…

For a musician… that was honestly the most disheartening and soul-shattering damage I’ve ever had to my body. For those 11 days of wondering if i had permenant damage… I felt pretty darn defeated. I can relate to those with any sort of hearing loss / damage now. I am thankful for that experience… Again… hoping that my ear fully recovers, but so far so good. Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I apprecaite it.

i will keep people posted as to the the total recovery… but so far… about 16 days post trauma… my hearing is coming back.

I got sucker punched on my right ear
I hope you filed charges so they will at least be paying your medical bills.

I was seeing a GPracticioner and she was not too concerned scheduling my ENT appointment
consider finding a new GP.

are not medical doctors

For a musician… that was honestly the most disheartening
if I earned my living as a musician I think I would have been to the ER… quickly after the incident.

Hey Mick,

  1. Yeah I filed charges… I don’t like being assulted. And yes, I will be sending him every penny of my medical expenses… and probably gas receipts, time off of work receipts, and ear drop receipts.

  2. I’ve never had any ear damage before in my life… I was not sure as to how serious it was / could have been / still could potentially be. Perhaps my GP should have been more proactive, I have learned a lesson.

  3. Audiologists are not medical doctors, indeed. I never really said that he was… I may have called him a doctor, but it was a nominal mistake. From all the information he gathered, there is good evidence that my ossicles and nerves were not damaged badly. I will have the final verdict on 2/14/12 when I see my ENT, and I will post that result when I get done with it, for others to use as a reference.

  4. I am a legal assistant by day, and a badass mother fucker by night. Can’t just skip work cuz I am deaf. I did what I could, when i could. And I am very glad that I handled it like I did. I know a hell of a lot of people my age who would have just let it heal. Luckily I work my ass off and have medical insurance, so I used it… when I had the opportunity… so I could keep my job and insurance.

There are days, still… in this recovery… where my hearing is clearly not normal. There are days, still when I feel on the edge of having an ear infection, and I get headaches and sharp pains from it. There are days when I realize that my ear is still damaged and healing itself… its really tough to deal with. So I am certainly not counting my cards yet… its just from the audiologist’s report… he deduced that my ear and hearing are still very much in tact, and that with time and proper maintenance, I should get my hearing back almost totally.

Im not sure where Im going from here… what if my hearing comes back only 90%? What if I have future issues with my ear and ear infections? I am not sure what the future holds… but I do know that the present says that my ear is still working like it should, and that the rupture appears to be healing itself, and that all I can do is be fucking thankful that I’m still not hearing at 20%… again… knock on wood.

Still the most disheartening thing I’ve endured… and I have chrones disease!!! Fuck me… right? Gotta find the silver lining… and that is I can hear better today than I could 2 weeks ago.

Crohn’s is some nasty sh!t… hang in there.

No, we are not medical doctors but we ARE doctors if we hold a Au.D which is a Doctorate degree (just like calling those with Ph.D ‘Doctor’ or optometrists who have an O.D ‘Doctor’). Any Audiologist who promotes themselves as a Physician should be reported immediately and is in violation of the Code of Ethics as well as state laws and regulations.

And when it comes to hearing loss, MD’s base their diagnosis on what we tell them. We are the ones qualified to test for and diagnose hearing loss and determine what kind of loss there is. If there had been a problem with the ossicles or cochlea it would have shown up on the audiogram and other tests that we perform. There are some rudimentary tests an ENT can do in the office that can indicate what kind of loss a person has but ultimately the best way to know is to perform a full diagnostic evaluation which is done by Audiologists.

Glad to hear you filed charges. People have to be held accountable for their misdeeds.

I fell last year on New Year, landed on my head. I have not hear correctly since. ER said it was most likely just swelling affecting the hearing. A few days later went to my GP, he said the exact same thing. It’s been 13 months and one surgery later, still can’'t hear much in my left ear.

Take comfort in the fact that your hearing is improving. I didn’t realize at first how much losing a portion of the hearing in one ear could affect my life. I had hope though at first, surgery would give me back a lot of what had been lost. No such luck.

Sorry to hear you have to deal with Chrones. Know a few folks who are dealing with it and it sucks.

Hey Everyone:

DocAudio… indeed, a doctor. I appreciate all your professional advice going through this ordeal… it was very helpful. The audiologist who did my work-up was extremely professional and kind. He was very, very helpful in diagnosing my issues and making sure there was no real major damage to my inner ear. He re-assured me a lot, and explained the results of the audiogram very thoroughly… especially cuz im a singer… he is also a musician, so he took extra care to explain everything. At the end, I asked him if there was any way I could do tests to see if I could sing on pitch and hear proper tones (jokingly of course) and he said, “no… that’s up to you’re god-given abilities.”

I thought that was funny.

Lohearn: I am SO SO sorry about what you are going through. I had those hearing issues for 12 days, where I just couldn’t hear anything, it felt really swollen and super congested, and just… i couldn’t hear… i was deaf essentially… I CAN imagine… but cannot (in the least bit) comprehend what it must be like to have to deal with that for an extended time period. My thoughts and prayers are with you, but like DocAudio said: “brains are very plastic objects and yours will eventually learn how to cope”.

And FYI… my mother had chronic ear infections in her left ear for her entire life. Eventually, the doctrs couldn’t do anything about it, and they essentially just scooped out, like a cantaloupe, all of her inner ear mechanisms and literally just hallowed out her inner and middle ear. She is 100% deaf (obviosly) in that ear, and she has learned how to cope and she doesn’t even think about it anymore… and she went about 30 years with being able to hear otu of it fine… she is now 40… so it does eventually cope and equilibrium does find its way in the body.

But again… im sorry about what you are going through… I can relate and I cannot imagine it being prolonged. Im sorry, but you will get better… the body does want to heal itself. Again… my prayers are with you for a relatively quick and long-lasting recovery. xoxxoxo on valentines day :slight_smile:

My ENT had to reschedule today… family emergency… I think Im just gunna not go to it and see how the ear heals itself. Its feeling very good right now, and I think my body is doing an AMAZING job in healing itself. I am pretty surprised.

So yeah… for anyone suffereing a traumatic ear-drum rupture… give it some time! I am about 23 days post trauma and I am doing pretty well.

And yes… chrones is sometimes a living hell. But that’s a different discussion for a different board. Essentially… its maintenance and keeping stress low, not much drinking, no smoking, good balanced diet, and a positive attitude (along with steroids)… yet when it flares up… it is about as debilitating as the flu x3. PAIN FROM THE STOMACH TO THE RECTUM… sucks… but maintaining that balance between flares is enlightening and puts me in control… and if i do it right… the flare ups can stay dormant for a long time. But essentially… for those who have gastric ulcers… imagine those thru the entire digestive tract. yikes.

Love on Vtines day,


So glad to hear you’re doing better! I’m thrilled for anyone one of us who can regain their natural hearing.

My brain is adapting, but things will never be “right” again. In some ways, I wonder if no hearing is better than what I hear out of that ear now?

I just found it so interesting how much it can affect your life. As a normal hearing person, even with a son with a hearing issue, I couldn’t understand how hearing loss could be that much of an impact on your daily life. Live and learn I guess.

So I’m adapting as best I can. I think the suddeness of it all was what has made it so difficult to adapt. Between the suddeness and the thought that surgey woudl fix it kept me from completely accepting my new reality. At my post op visit in June 2011 that’s when I knew, that’s when reality hit, that this was going to be the way it’s going to be.

Glad to hear that it is doing well. I actually had my ear drum rupture a couple years ago, had to have a setup for surgery. Well, I wasn’t able to have the surgery when it was scheduled so I cancelled. I then put it to the back of my mind, which I know I shouldn’t have done. ( I am hearing impaired, so I didn’t notice a difference with my hearing) Anyway, when I went to see about getting new ha’s, the audiologist said that there was no hole in my ear drum, that it must have healed on its own. Not sure how that happened, as my ear drums were already rebuilt from where they had opened up as a child. So I figured that tissue wouldn’t heal, but apparently it did. I will have an ENT check one more time to be sure, but it sounds like my ear healed itself in its own time. (months) If there is a hole she missed, I’ll have the surgery asap.

Anyways, my point being (sorry for getting off topic), it is VERY amazing how the body heals itself! :slight_smile: