Ruptured Infected Eardrum (Adult)

The middle ear is the space behind the eardrum. You have an infection of the middle ear. This can lead to pressure that causes pain and may cause the eardrum to break (rupture). This may cause sudden worse pain. Pus or blood will drain out of the ear canal. Your hearing will also likely be affected.

The infection may be treated with antibiotics. The eardrum usually heals completely on its own. If it does not, further treatment is needed. For this reason, it’s important to have a follow-up exam with your healthcare provider or an ear specialist.

Home care

  • Keep taking prescribed antibiotics until all of the medicine is gone. Do this even if you feel better after the first few days.

  • Take any other medicines as prescribed. Don't take any other medicine without asking your healthcare provider, especially the first time.

  • Keep a clean cotton ball in the ear canal to absorb drainage. Change the cotton often, when it becomes soiled with fluid drainage. Don’t let water get into the ear. Don’t put any medicine drops into the ear unless your healthcare provider tells you to do so.

  • Don’t smoke and stay away from secondhand smoke.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider in 2 weeks, or as advised. This is to make sure the infection is getting better and the eardrum is healing. Also follow up with specialists if advised for a hearing test or exam.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as advised by your healthcare provider

  • Pain that gets worse or doesn’t get better

  • Unusual drowsiness or confusion

  • Headache, neck pain or a stiff neck

  • Convulsions (seizure)

  • Worsening dizziness

  • Worsening hearing loss or ringing in the ear

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