A burst or perforated eardrum may occur following an infection, injury or explosion and can cause temporary hearing loss, nausea and discharge. Most perforations heal in two to three weeks without treatment, but some may linger for longer periods or require surgical correction. Swimming, especially underwater, is not recommended after a burst eardrum because water that enters the middle ear increases the risk of ear infection.
Avoid swimming under water as much as possible. Keeping your ear dry is essential for several weeks after your eardrum bursts.
Place an earplug or a cotton ball coated with petroleum jelly into your affected ear canal to prevent water from reaching the perforated eardrum. Water that enters the hole in your eardrum may lead to an infection, especially if the water contains chemicals or contaminants.
Refrain from any water activities that require diving under water, even briefly. Pressure changes caused by diving can cause additional injury to a perforated eardrum. This is true even if you are wearing an earplug.
Speak with your doctor about options for closing the hole in your eardrum. A paper eardrum patch can speed healing, and surgical tissue grafts can close a persistent hole.
Take any medication prescribed by your doctor to prevent infection or treat your burst eardrum. Let your doctor know immediately if dirty water enters your ear canal.