A perforated ear drum creates an opening from the middle ear to the outside world thereby predisposing it to recurrent middle ear infections. The infections usually cause a discharging ear which could be messy and may cause a hearing loss due to the bacterial toxins. Some people, however, have a perforated ear drum with no symptoms in which case, they may not require any form of treatment depending on the circumstance.

Surgery is sometimes recommended for this condition. For people who have repeated ear infections or cannot swim because of the risk of getting an ear infection, Mr Olarinde will carefully go through the infections you have had in the past, look at both ears and obtain a hearing test before discussing with you the type of surgery that will be optimal. The commonest procedure to treat a perforated ear drum is a myringoplasty which is an operation to close a hole in the ear drum, but a tympanoplasty to improve hearing may be carried out.

Sometimes a discharging ear may be due to a cholesteatoma. This is infected debris and skin cells trapped in a tiny cleft extending behind and deep to the middle ear. Cholesteatomas cause a foul smelling discharge which may be blood-stained although all blood-stained ear discharges should be assessed for other possible causes. This usually requires surgery (mastoidectomy) to remove all the disease by drilling the bone surrounding the cholesteatoma.

What to expect

Your consultation will be in a relaxed atmosphere where you can go over your symptoms adequately. You can come with a spouse, friend or relative if this makes you feel more at ease or if you feel you may forget some things during the consultation. A relative, partner or friend around during the consultation may also be helpful in case you do not remember everything that was said during the consultation.

Listening to you and sometimes asking directed questions is an important part of the consultation. Please bring along a list of your medication if you are on any. Your past medical history will also be enquired about, ie previous operations and past/present medical conditions.

An examination of the affected part of the body is then carried out. This does not usually hurt except in acutely inflamed conditions in which case care is taken to keep discomfort to you to the barest minimum.

The consultation usually finishes off with a discussion with Mr Olarinde about the cause of the symptoms and management measures. Most people have questions to ask and these are carefully answered.

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