Perforated/Torn Eardrum From Being Struck
by Nebulus1986, Aug 14, 2012
Hello all.  3 days ago I was struck, open palm, directly on my ear, very hard.  I immediately had a seeming loss of hearing with consistent ringing/muffled hearing and tones.  No blood or fluid discharge from the ear at any time.  I slept on it for the next two days, until yesterday, when it had not gotten any better, I went immediately to an ENT.  He could not see anything with the normal scope so he ordered a hearing test from an audiologist.  They could not form a seal on the first part of the test with the earplugs (where they test pressure to the eardrum) on the struck ear, so he assumed microscopic tears.  The remainder of the test was fairly normal (with the hurt ear performing a little less than the other).  He checked me with a microscope and still could not conclusively determine if there were holes or not, but still assumed there were afterwards and said there is nothing he can do, just to let it heal on its own and see him again in a month.  

The last day or two since I saw him have been unbearable.  I've noticed the same muffled sound in the hurt ear, while the OTHER ear has become EXTREMELY sensitive to any sort of rumbling, bass, or low tones.  I could not even drive or get through the gym because the workout machines bothered me so much....what should I do?  Go back to the doctor now?  Keep trying to wait for it to heal itself?  What could explain the other ear now bothering me so much?  Thank you all so much.  I'm terrified at this point.
Member Comments (11)
by beachcomber13Blank, Aug 15, 2012
Hi and welcome to the Hearing Loss forum. I am sorry to have you join us under these circumstances! What a stressful experience.

First, I would like to explain a bit about your eardrum. You probably already know that it moves with sound pressure waves, which causes other things inside your head to move and send sounds to your brain. I wonder if anyone has explained what it is made of: skin.

If you stick your finger inside your ear canal (which you should not do, because I am sure your mother told you never to stick anything smaller than your elbow in your ear), you will feel that the skin of your ear becomes the skin of your ear canal. That becomes the skin of your ear drum.

Think about what happens when you get a cut in your skin. Aside from the pain, you have a tear, breaking up the skin. It will heal. It may leave a scar, but most scars fade, because skin has an amazing ability to regenerate.

Your eardrum will heal. The audiologist was right: there is nothing he can do about it. Too bad we cannot put a band-aid on it or neosporin. ;)

Now, while you are waiting for it to heal... Keep calm. It is totally normal to become sensitized to sound in the other ear. The damaged ear is not hearing as well, so your brain is really noticing the sounds coming in from the good ear. Try explaining to your brain that it is great to notice all of those sounds, that one day soon your hearing will be balanced again, and everything will be back to normal. Then the hypersensitivity will probably fade.

I would be curious to know what your hearing levels were when the audiologist tested you. I have noticed that people, including many audiologists and ENTs, tend to say "no big deal" to anything under 30 dB. But if you have experienced a change, it is a big deal.

Every 6 dB you lose, things sound half as loud. Half! So....

If you heard at 10 dB before, and now you hear at 20 dB, things are about 1/3 as loud as they were. So if you were told that there is not much difference between your ears, yet you feel that your hearing is much worse, trust yourself. You are probably right: it is much worse than it was.

But it will not be worse forever. And as long as you can hear and understand people talking, music, etc., your hearing is doing what it needs to do. I know it is easy for me to say, but just be patient.

If you have any more concerns, questions, or even just worries you need to express, please do not hesitate to post! Also, please post again when your hearing improves. Take care, and thanks for the great questions.

by Nebulus1986, Aug 15, 2012
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate it.  I do know I need to try and ignore it, it's just so physically unbearable at times I'm not sure what to do.  I don't remember the exact results of the audio test per frequency response, but the ENT said that the injured ear was not too far off.  If I wear headphones I do notice it to be a little bit dimmer, particularly not much hearing to lower tones, bass ect., while (like I mentioned) the uninjured ear is EXTREMELY sensitive to any sort of mid to low tone.  When I speak I can also hear my voice very loud in the injured ear, to where it's sometimes difficult to know how loud I am speaking.  Is this all normal within the spectrum of blunt force trauma to the ear?  How long can I expect this to take to generally heal, considering it's been a few days now?  I am otherwise very healthy and have a great diet, workout, ect.  Is there anything I can do to help ease these symptoms, like wear an earplug, cotton ball, drops, or anything?  Thank you so much again.

by beachcomber13Blank, Aug 15, 2012
Everything you described is totally normal. You have a conductive hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss causes sounds inside of you (your voice) to be louder than sounds from outside of you. Put an earplug in your good ear, and you will experience the same phenomenon.

Conductive hearing loss tends to cause a greater loss in the lower frequencies. It's physics.

The kind of trauma you described could definitely cause the type of symptoms you have. The smack probably sent something like a shock wave at your eardrum. The eardrum has nowhere to let out the increased pressure--the ear canal is a closed area. Often it bursts under these conditions, but sometimes it can be damaged without completely bursting.

Everyone heals differently, so it is hard to say how long it will take. Think about whether you tend to be quick or slow to heal in general. I would guess 2-4 weeks.

Just in case there is a little tear, I would avoid immersing it in lake water--not sure where you live. :) But normal pool or bath water would be fine, because there is enough chlorine that not much is going to grow. You do not need to worry about getting it wet. Your eustachian tubes can drain it. You just don't want any bacteria getting in there, hence no lake swimming.

Drops and cotton will not help. Taking your normal vitamins and eating well will. I do not know if there are any vitamins to support skin health or healing, but I'm sure you could google that. it sounds like you live a healthy lifestyle, so you will be fine.

I would not normally advise this, but since this is having such a negative effect on you... You might like wearing earplugs in both ears or in your good ear. Balance things out. Maybe when you are just hanging around the house. Not at work. :)

I know it is hard to change your feelings and fears, but you may want to try. when those "this is awful, I hate hearing this way, what if it doesn't get better" thought come, counter with "It's not fun, but it is temporary, and it will get better. My body has an amazing capacity to heal itself. If my body can heal broken bones and dissolve bruises, surely it can heal a small skin tear."

You have done everything right so far, going to the ENT and audiologist. Now your body will take care of the rest.
by Nebulus1986, Aug 19, 2012
One week + 1 day and no noticeable improvement.  Daily life is extremely difficult.  Only an increase in the tinnitus (which is extremely high) from the damaged ear with absolutely no ability to hear low (and some mid) frequencies.  Doing my best to try and put it out of my mind but it's tough when I can't carry out a conversation effectively.  Maybe after this coming week I should call my ENT again for further testing?  I'm sorry, I'm just terrified at this point...
by Aps20, Aug 23, 2012
I understand how that feels because my ear drum is perforated 1/4th of its size two days back. I am terrified about what if it does not heal, am I going to become deaf, I have my life ahead of me etc.
But what beachcomber13 has written is wonderful 'Its not fun its temporary and it will get better. My body has the amazing capacity to heal itself. If my body can heal broken bones and dissolve bruises surely it can heal a small skin tear'.
Everytime I despair about what happened I have been repeating this statement like a mantra to myself. Honestly the fear is not gone but there is atleast a ray of hope. Fear is opposite of faith my friend the choice is yours and yours alone.  
by jw773, Oct 31, 2012
Indeed, thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response - it helps calm nerves of people who are going through this...such as myself!  I found this thread when searching the internet after an incident very similar to what the original poster described.  Mine happened 4 nights ago.  I saw an ENT 2 days after the incident and his attitude was calm, not worried, and he said many of the same things you mentioned in your post.  Still, when one has lost something you've always taken for granted, you become impatient to regain it and concerned that you may have lost it forever.  4 days after, I have no ringing, nor pain, but my hearing is still affected: I can hear my own voice rumbling in my own head too much, low bass sounds don't sound right, etc.  I'm due to see the ENT doctor again in two weeks, and I'm trying to refrain from calling him in the interim (and trying to trust that the healing process is happening and my hearing will return to normal).  In the meantime, curious if the original poster ever regained his hearing to pre-incident levels?  Thanks again.
by Greg7, Nov 19, 2012
I got hit with a soccer ball 3 weeks ago flush on my left ear and since then my left ear has been ringing and I have worse hearing through that ear.
My ENT suggested I go to an audiologist who confirmed my hearing has deteriorated in the past 18 months (I had previously been to the same audiologist for bad tinnitus which turned out to be fine and go away).
My left ear has much worse hearing especially at higher frequencies.

The audiologist will send the report to my ENT, I'll see what he says and let everyone know. This is definitely scary, but good to see that others have similar experiences so I know it's normal. Here's hoping for a full recovery!
by Phill115, Mar 13, 2013
Thank you for the help an ex friend punched me behind the ear and I felt scares but reading your post about blunt trauma to ear gave me peace of mind so thank you and god bless
by setzer, Mar 17, 2013
After having my left ear seringend at my gp's  I now experience problems with low frequency (deep bass music notes)  will this issue go or do i seak help from a ENT specialist?