Ruptured, or perforated, eardrums are painful and, when vertigo sets in, disorienting and baffling. As strange as it seems, the link between the ears and balance--or lack of balance--explains what is happening, and how to treat it.
The eardrum divides the external and middle ear. The eardrum protects the middle ear, an air filled space that holds the ossicles, three small bones for hearing. Often trauma, such as insertion of an object like a cotton swab, a swimming incident or sudden outward pressure changes will cause a perforation, or rupturing, of the eardrum. This is extremely painful, and can cause vertigo.
When the world feels like it is spinning, or in motion, despite the lack of movement, this is vertigo. Vertigo is disorienting, and can last for a few minutes or several hours. Although vertigo itself is harmless, when caused by a ruptured eardrum, other symptoms, such as headache, loss of hearing and double vision, are present, and treatment from a doctor is necessary.
Eardrums and Balance
The body controls balance and equilibrium through the semicircular canals, organs located in the inner ear. These three looping tubes are at right angles with each other, representing all three planes of dimensional space, and are attached to the sacculus and utriculus, collections of sensory cells. When the head changes position, calcium carbonate crystals shift on their bed of sensory hairs; the cerebellum reads this information and determines the position of the head relative to gravity, giving the body a sense of balance. When a ruptured eardrum occurs, the calcium carbonate crystals move independent of the movements of the head, and the cerebellum becomes confused. The result is vertigo--the brain thinks the head is moving, when no actual movement is present.
People who experience perforated eardrum-based vertigo typically experience lightheadedness or faintness along with the dizziness that comes with vertigo. Vertigo can also cause severe headaches, or migraines. Loss of hearing and tinnitus, ringing in the ears, are also typical symptoms that accompany ruptured eardrums and vertigo.
Treating the perforated eardrum will treat the vertigo as well. Most trauma-based perforations will heal by themselves, although surgery is sometimes required. A doctor may prescribe medications to treat vertigo, which can include antihistamines, such as Benadryl or Antivert, nausea suppressants, such as Phenergan or Transderm-Scop, or Valium. These medications ease vertigo until the perforated eardrum heals.
- Photo Credit ear image by Connfetti from Fotolia.com
Symptoms of a Burst Ear Drum
A burst eardrum is when a tear or a hole occurs in the eardrum. An eardrum may burst if a foreign object...
Ear Drum Pain
Pain in the ear drum, or the tympanic membrane, may indicate a variety of medical issues. It can mean a ruptured eardrum,...
Dizziness from Ear Wax Build-Up
The human ear is a very delicate, complex, and still not fully understood structure. The combination of inner, middle and outer ear...
TMJ Ear Symptoms
Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect the jawbone and the skull. They are located on each side of the head near each ear. These...
Difference Between Inner Ear & Middle Ear Infection
The inner ear and the middle ear can both become infected. The inner ear is where the nerves go to the brain...
How to Determine If You Have A Ruptured Eardrum
A ruptured eardrum is not an uncommon event for either children or adults. A ruptured eardrum is literally a hole in the...
How to Prevent Inner Ear Crystals
Inner ear crystals, technically known as otoconia, are tiny calcium carbonate crystals located within the otolith organs of the ear. The inner...
Symptoms of a Perforated Eardrum in a Dog
Dog owners should be able to readily recognize symptoms of a perforated ear drum. It's important to see the vet promptly to...