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What Side Should I Sleep On With A Ruptured Eardrum?

By: Susie
Updated On: October 29, 2023

Have you ever had that nagging pain in your ear that makes it nearly impossible to get comfortable at night?

Dealing with a ruptured eardrum is no walk in the park, and finding the best sleeping position can feel like a daunting task.

The question "What side should I sleep on with a ruptured eardrum?" is one that likely looms in your mind as you toss and turn, trying to find relief.

Your sleep quality is an essential element of your overall wellness, and while going through this healing process, proper rest is even more crucial.

A ruptured or perforated eardrum might throw off not just your daily routine but also disrupt your sleep pattern. So, it's only natural to want some guidance to alleviate the discomfort during bedtime.

Positioning yourself correctly can actually minimize discomfort and foster a better night's sleep, allowing for optimal healing during this challenging time.

What exactly is a Ruptured Eardrum problem?

A Ruptured Eardrum, medically termed a tympanic membrane perforation, is a condition where the thin layer of tissue that separates your ear canal from your middle ear (the eardrum) has a hole or tear.

What exactly is a Ruptured Eardrum problem?

This can occur due to several reasons, including loud sounds or blasts (acoustic trauma), sudden changes in pressure, poking your eardrum with an object, or infections in the middle ear.

Symptoms typically include hearing loss, ear pain that might subside quickly, ringing or buzzing noises (tinnitus), drainage from the ear (either clear, pus-filled, or bloody), and occasionally vertigo or dizziness. If you experience any of these symptoms, it's advisable to seek medical attention.

The good news is that a ruptured eardrum usually heals without treatment within a few weeks. However, it's important not to swim or let water into your ears as this could lead to infection. If it doesn't heal naturally, physicians may recommend procedures like patching or surgery.

So caution should be taken to prevent an eardrum rupture, and whenever any related symptoms are noticed, professional medical help should be sought immediately.

What are the symptoms of Ruptured Eardrum?

A ruptured eardrum, often described as akin to having your little drummer boy going rogue in your ear, is a condition that brings not just discomfort but an orchestra of symptoms.

What are the symptoms of Ruptured Eardrum?

Let's delve into the crucial symptoms associated with this ailment's healing process.

Ear Pain that May Suddenly Decrease

The first telltale sign of a ruptured eardrum is usually pain. This pain can be sharp and sudden or constant and dull, varying from person to person.

This intense earache may suddenly decrease. However, lest you celebrate the cessation prematurely, understanding the reason behind it becomes vital.

The swift decrease in pain is usually due to the tear in your eardrum, relieving pressure buildup caused by an infection or fluid accumulation.

Also Read: How To Sleep With An Ear Infection? [Top 10 Health Hacks]

Clear, Pus-Filled, or Bloody Drainage from the Ear

In conjunction with pain, if there is any presence of clear, pus-filled, or bloody drainage from your ear, it could be indicative of a ruptured eardrum.

This drainage could be a result of infection or injury and typically ensues when the protective layer between the inner and outer parts of your ear gets compromised. It's crucial to note that any amount of discharge from your ear warrants immediate medical attention.

Hearing Loss

Another symptom you might experience with a ruptured eardrum relates to hearing loss— an unfortunate acoustic challenge that definitely does not appeal music-wise.

Conductive hearing loss tends to occur when sound waves fail to reach your inner ear due to damage or blockage in your middle or outer ear, such as from an injured eardrum.

While this form of hearing loss is generally temporary and reversible once your eardrum heals, in cases of severe prolonged injury, permanent hearing impairment can occur.

Ringing in the Ear (tinnitus)

Yet important is tinnitus, which presents as a sensation of ringing, hissing, buzzing, or humming sound within one's ear despite there being no external noise.

Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss or exposure to loud noises and can be aggravated by stress, caffeine, and even certain medications.

While tinnitus in itself isn't a disease but rather a symptom of an underlying condition like a ruptured eardrum, it can cause significant distress, impacting sleep and concentration levels.

Spinning Sensation (Vertigo)

Welcome to the spinning room dance of vertigo—a symptom you may be forcing a waltz within your eardrum after it's ruptured.

Vertigo is a specific kind of dizziness in which you or your environment feels like it's spinning or moving around you.

This movement sensation often happens due to issues related to the inner ear, where the sense of balance is regulated.

Having a busted eardrum may result in vertigo as it disrupts the normal functioning of your vestibular system (the inner ear balance system).

The severity may vary, from creating a strange, unsettling feeling to causing a complete loss of balance.

Nausea or Vomiting Resulting from Vertigo

Now that we have danced around vertigo, it's equally important to highlight another discomforting sidekick - nausea and potential vomiting.

See, when your beautiful brain gets confused by incongruent information from other balancing systems, such as eyes and muscles, along with the vestibular system (which has been hampered due to a ruptured eardrum), motion sickness sets in - translating into nausea or even vomiting.

It doesn’t seem fair that we can’t enjoy our roller coaster bouts without consequences. More seriously, these symptoms could be incapacitating and, if persistent, require immediate medical attention.

Read More: 6 Best Pillows for Vertigo To Reduce Your Dizziness In 2023

Ear Fullness or Pressure

It's definitely not a new weightlifting routine for the ear, but “pressure or fullness” is another symptom you could do without dealing with a ruptured eardrum.

This unusual sensation can be best described as having stiffness inside your ears that doesn’t seem to go away.

No amount of swallowing, yawning, or blowing your nose brings relief—it's like being stuck in an annoying perpetual plane descent.

It seems likely this pressure builds up due to fluid accumulation or infection behind the eardrum that couldn’t escape because of rupture.

Buzzing or Humming in the Ear

At last, let us tune into the ear’s internal radio. Buzzing or humming in the ear, similar to tinnitus, can serve as a clear signal that something might not be quite right with your eardrum.

While at times it may feel like an uninvited opera of buzzing bees or bizarrely even futuristic hums, these sounds are usually heard when all is quiet around you and can range from being mildly annoying to absolutely unbearable.

Just as unique as every hum or buzz, so is every ear. Therefore, if you are grappling with such syndromes - seek professional advice promptly.

What Side Should I Sleep On With A Ruptured Eardrum?

When dealing with a ruptured eardrum, it's crucial how you position yourself during sleep. Although there is no definitive rule, generally, doctors recommend that you should try to sleep on the unaffected side of the ear. Sleeping on the side of the ruptured eardrum could exacerbate pain and slow down the healing process.

If sleeping on one side is uncomfortable, another recommended option is to sleep on your back. This prevents any direct pressure or harm to both ears and can also help drainage if that occurs.

Each person's case could be different depending on the symptoms and severity of the ruptured eardrum.

It is always prudent to reach out to your healthcare provider for personalized advice. Always prioritize comfort without neglecting proper healing conditions for your ear.

Explore More: 10 Best Mattress Toppers for Side Sleepers 2023 [Top Picks]

Precautions for Ruptured Eardrum

A ruptured eardrum demands deliberate and thoughtful care to expedite the healing process. Certain actions and precautions can minimize further damage and encourage efficient recovery.

Precautions for Ruptured Eardrum

Let's dive into specific measures you can take to protect your delicate eardrum, support its regeneration, and identify critical signs that necessitate a visit to the doctor.

  • Avoid inserting objects into the ear: Your ear canal is a sensitive, intricate system that may be easily damaged by objects like cotton swabs, hairpins, or even fingers. Each insertion risks pushing earwax deeper into the canal or injuring the eardrum. Thus, it's ideal to refrain from sticking anything in your ear.
  • Keep the ear dry: Maintaining your ruptured eardrum's dryness reduces your risk of infection significantly. While showering or bathing, consider using customized waterproof earplugs or a shower cap to shield your ears from water exposure.
  • Don't blow your nose forcefully: Strong nasal pressure may thrust air up into your middle ear, given their interconnected nature via Eustachian tubes. This sudden surge of air can provoke unnecessary pressure on an already damaged eardrum.
  • Wear earplugs while swimming or bathing: Considering reported cases where water entering through a ruptured eardrum has led to infection, it certainly pays off to safeguard against such possibilities upfront with well-fitted earplugs.
  • Stay away from loud noises: Loud sound exposure can further stress an impaired eardrum. Therefore, it's sensible to steer clear of noisy environments until complete recovery.
  • Avoid air travel or diving: These activities alter atmospheric pressure, which in turn affects the stress levels in our ears drastically. A ruptured eardrum cannot withstand such abrupt changes,, and it could lead to pain and dizziness.
  • Say no to cleaning ears with cotton swabs: Despite the widespread practice of using cotton swabs to clean ears, this is highly discouraged, especially with a ruptured eardrum. They tend to push earwax deeper and can inflict additional injury.
  • Protect your ear from cold winds: Cold weather can actually intensify the pain from ruptured eardrums. Hence, it's recommended to cover your ears with earmuffs or scarves when out in chilly winds.
  • Strictly follow prescribed medications as directed: Follow your medication regimen rigorously. You may have been prescribed oral antibiotics, antibiotic eardrops, or pain relievers, which should be taken exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Keep up regular follow-ups with a healthcare professional: This is of utmost importance to oversee the progress of your healing process and make necessary adjustments in treatment if required.

These are some primary precautions borne out of expert inputs and years of medical research. Abiding by these guidelines not only aids in speedy recovery but also deters potential complications associated with a ruptured eardrum.

Every individual's healing pace varies, and patience plays an enormous role in the recovery journey from a ruptured eardrum.

Do ensure diligent use of these precautions until you're completely healed and receive assured clearance from your healthcare provider.

When Should You Consult a Doctor?

You've got to admit: dealing with a ruptured eardrum can be quite a challenge. Aside from the discomfort, there's also the uncertainty that comes with it.

When Should You Consult a Doctor?

Understanding these red flags is crucial for your treatment and recovery. So, let's delve into when you need to pick up the phone and seek professional medical help.

  • Sudden or sharp ear pain: If you are suddenly hit with severe ear pain that makes it difficult for you to do your daily activities, or if the ache escalates rapidly, it's time to consult your doctor. These symptoms could signify an increased severity of your existing eardrum rupture.
  • Hearing loss or muffled hearing: Experiencing difficulty in hearing or sounds being muffled is not something you should disregard. Changes in your auditory perception might indicate complications associated with a perforated eardrum.
  • Fluid or blood drainage from the ear: Clear fluid, puss, or bloody discharge dripping from your ear is a tell-tale sign of an injured eardrum that necessitates immediate medical attention.
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ear (tinnitus): A constant ringing noise in your ears can be challenging to live with and might indicate an aggravated condition of your ruptured eardrum.
  • Dizziness or vertigo: Feeling unsteady, as if the world around you is spinning out of control? That could hint at inner ear disturbances due to the damaged eardrum.
  • Nausea or vomiting associated with ear symptoms: Nausea or vomiting associated with dizziness can be linked to balance issues and suggest further complications.
  • Facial weakness or numbness: This might seem unrelated, but bear with us here - facial weakness or numbness on one side could also indicate serious complications associated with an extreme ear condition.
  • History of ear infections or previous eardrum injury: If you've had a similar issue before - such as frequent ear infections or a previous history of a ruptured eardrum, it's best to remain proactive and check in with your physician at the earliest sign of trouble.
  • Exposure to a loud blast or sudden pressure change: Sudden pressure changes (such as those experienced during flights) or exposure to loud blasts can be harsh on your ears. If you've experienced any of these and are having ear discomfort, it's prudent to consult your doctor immediately.
  • Object insertion or trauma to the ear: If you’ve inserted anything in your ear recently, even something as benign as a cotton swab, or if your ear has been hit or injured in some way, these factors combined with any discomfort should trigger you to seek professional help right away.

Now that we've covered when you should see a doctor remember not to self-diagnose. While these pointers can help alert you towards potential problems and nudge you towards seeking professional assistance sooner rather than later - they do not replace medical advice.

Also Read: Which Side To Sleep With Blocked Nose? [Expert Advice For Relief]

FAQs about Ruptured Eardrum

What sleeping position is most comfortable with a ruptured eardrum?

Typically, it's recommended to try sleeping on the unaffected side or on your back, ensuring unnecessary pressure is not applied to the injured ear.

Can sleeping on my side worsen my ruptured eardrum?

Yes, if you're sleeping on the affected ear, it might increase discomfort and could potentially delay healing.

Is it possible to cause further damage to a ruptured eardrum while I'm sleeping?

While regular sleep itself likely won't cause additional damage, lying on the affected ear can exacerbate pain and possibly interfere with the healing process.

If my right ear has a ruptured eardrum, should I sleep on my left side?

Yes, try to sleep on your left side or back if your right eardrum is ruptured to alleviate pressure and promote comfort.

Does elevation of the head affect comfort during sleep with a ruptured eardrum?

Elevating your head may help reduce throbbing sensations in the affected ear and may enhance overall comfort while sleeping.


Navigating through a ruptured eardrum is not an easy ordeal. The discomfort can be overwhelming and disrupt your nightly rest.

Remember to adjust your sleeping position, favoring the unaffected side or opting to sleep on your back. But most importantly, tuning into your body's signals is key.

Consult immediately with health care professionals if you encounter any severe symptoms or uncertainties. Always remember: your health is invaluable; take that extra step for its well-being.

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