Condition: Eardrum Retraction

Eardrum retraction happens when processes like scarring and pressure imbalance causes the eardrum to be pulled back, out of its normal position.

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What is eardrum retraction?

Eardrum retraction is where the eardrum is pulled or sucked inwards, further into the middle ear than is normal. As a result, the structures in the middle ear can be damaged, and the tympanic membrane can no longer separate the middle and outer ear as it should.

This can cause symptoms such as impaired hearing, and if left untreated can lead to complications such as permanent hearing loss, so it’s important to seek a diagnosis and treatment.

What are the symptoms of eardrum retraction?

In some cases, a retracted eardrum won’t cause any symptoms at all. However, if your eardrum pulls back far enough to put pressure on the ossicles (tiny bones in your middle ear), you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Earache or pain

  • A feeling of fullness or pressure in your ear

  • Drainage of fluid from your ear (otorrhea)

  • Temporary hearing loss

  • Permanent hearing loss

What causes eardrum retraction?

A retracted eardrum is caused by an imbalance of air pressure inside and outside the ear. Eustachian tube dysfunction is a common cause of this imbalance as it causes blockages in the tubes that connect your middle ears to your upper throat. Related conditions include:

  • Acute otitis media (middle ear infection)

  • Serous otitis media (fluid in the ears)

  • Upper respiratory infections

  • Chronic allergies

  • Sinus infections (sinusitis)

  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids

  • An eardrum perforation

How is eardrum retraction diagnosed?

A OneWelbeck Ear, Nose and Throat specialist can make a diagnosis of eardrum retraction based on your symptoms and an examination of your ears. They will be able to assess the severity of the condition and suggest the most appropriate next steps.

What are the treatment options for eardrum retraction?

Retracted eardrums can range from mild to severe, with milder cases often requiring no treatment. It’s important to have the condition assessed to ensure it doesn’t progress and lead to complications such as chronic infections or permanent hearing loss.

If you are suffering from severely retracted eardrums, and particularly if this is causing infection, treatment might be needed to stabilise the air pressure inside your ears. This might require surgery.

Common surgical procedures to treat eardrum retraction include tympanostomy and tympanoplasty. Tympanostomy is where small tubes are placed into the eardrum to balance the pressure in the middle ear. Tympanoplasty is performed to repair a tear in the eardrum if a perforation has caused the retraction.

Eardrum Retraction Specialists

All our private ENT specialists at OneWelbeck in London are leaders in their sub-specialties, providing the highest quality treatment to ensure you receive the best available care. Click on the profiles below to see which of our consultants can help with Eardrum Retraction.