Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
If you have signs or symptoms of a perforated eardrum, you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or general practitioner. However, your doctor may refer you to a specialist in ear, nose and throat disorders (ENT physician, or otolaryngologist). Because the time with your doctor can be brief, it's a good idea to prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
Make a list ahead of time that you can share with your doctor. Your list should include:
- Symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to hearing loss, fluid discharge or other ear-related symptoms
- Relevant events that may be related to your ear problems, such as a history of ear infections, recent injuries or recent air travel
- Medications, including any vitamins or supplements
- Questions for your doctor
List questions for your doctor from most important to least important in case time runs out. If you think you have signs or symptoms of a ruptured eardrum, you may ask some of the following questions.
- Do I have a ruptured eardrum?
- What else could be causing my hearing loss and other symptoms?
- If I have a ruptured eardrum, what do I need to do to protect my ear during the healing process?
- What type of follow-up appointments will I need?
- At what point do we need to consider other treatments?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first experience symptoms?
- Have you had symptoms, such as pain or vertigo, that aren't present anymore?
- Have you had ear infections before?
- Have you been exposed to loud sounds?
- Have you been swimming or diving recently?
- Have you recently flown?
- Have you experienced any head injuries?
- What have you used to clean your ear canal?
What you can do in the meantime
If you think that you have a ruptured eardrum, be careful to keep your ears dry to prevent infection. Don't go swimming. To keep water out of your ear when showering or bathing, use a moldable, waterproof silicone earplug or put a cotton ball coated with petroleum jelly in the "pocket" of your outer ear. Don't put any medication drops in your ear unless your doctor prescribes them specifically for infection related to your perforated eardrum.
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- Shelby JH (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 28, 2010.