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A ruptured (or perforated) eardrum is a tear or hole in the membrane of the middle ear. It's usually as a result of injury (trauma). The eardrum may also rupture from fluid buildup in the middle ear.
A person with fluid buildup in the ear may have severe pain. The pain gets better or goes away when the eardrum ruptures and the pressure is relieved. A ruptured eardrum usually drains suddenly. It leaks fluid that often looks like pus and smells bad. It may even be bloody.
In most cases, the eardrum heals on its own in 1 to 2 weeks, usually without hearing loss. But the injury or infection that caused the rupture often requires treatment and a visit to a doctor.
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