What Side Should I Sleep On With A Ruptured Eardrum? Discover The Optimal Position

By Kendra Reed

Updated On

An eardrum rupture, also known as a tympanic membrane perforation, is a condition that can cause significant discomfort and impact an individual’s hearing. Understanding the appropriate sleeping position for a ruptured eardrum is crucial for promoting healing and minimizing the risk of complications. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the importance of proper sleep positioning and provide valuable insights to help you navigate this challenging situation.

Key Takeaways

  1. A ruptured eardrum is a tear or hole in the thin tissue separating the ear canal from the middle ear.
  2. Sleeping on the unaffected side is generally recommended to minimize discomfort and potential complications.
  3. Seeking medical attention for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan is essential for proper healing.

What is an Eardrum Rupture?

An eardrum rupture is a tear or hole in the thin, delicate tissue called the tympanic membrane, which separates the ear canal from the middle ear. The eardrum plays a vital role in hearing by vibrating in response to sound waves and transmitting these vibrations to the middle ear bones.

A ruptured eardrum can occur due to various factors, including:

  • Ear infections
  • Trauma to the ear
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Sudden changes in pressure (e.g., during air travel or scuba diving)

When the eardrum is ruptured, it can lead to a range of symptoms and potentially impact an individual’s hearing.

Also Read: Essential Oils For Ear Infection: Try These Soothing Solutions

Symptoms of a Ruptured Eardrum

Individuals with a ruptured eardrum may experience various symptoms, depending on the severity of the perforation. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Ear pain: A ruptured eardrum can cause sudden, sharp pain in the affected ear, which may subside over time.
  • Hearing loss: The eardrum’s role in transmitting sound waves means that a rupture can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss.
  • Ringing in the ear (tinnitus): Some individuals may experience a ringing, buzzing, or whistling sound in the affected ear.
  • Drainage from the ear: A clear, pus-like, or bloody discharge from the ear can indicate a ruptured eardrum.
  • Dizziness or vertigo: In some cases, a ruptured eardrum can cause dizziness or a spinning sensation.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

What Side Should I Sleep on with a Ruptured Eardrum?

When dealing with a ruptured eardrum, finding a comfortable sleeping position that promotes healing and minimizes the risk of complications is essential. The general recommendation is to sleep on the unaffected side, allowing the ruptured eardrum to face upward.

Sleeping on the unaffected side offers several benefits:

  • Reduced pressure: By keeping the affected ear facing upward, you minimize the pressure on the ruptured eardrum, reducing discomfort and promoting healing.
  • Improved drainage: Sleeping on the unaffected side allows any fluid or discharge from the ear to drain more easily, preventing the accumulation of moisture that could lead to infection.
  • Minimized irritation: Avoiding direct contact between the ruptured eardrum and the pillow or bedding can help minimize irritation and potential further damage.

When sleeping, it’s important to use a supportive pillow that maintains proper head and neck alignment. Avoid using earplugs or headphones in the affected ear, as they can introduce bacteria and cause further irritation.

How to Treat an Eardrum Rupture?

Treatment for a ruptured eardrum depends on the severity of the perforation and the underlying cause. In many cases, a ruptured eardrum will heal on its own within a few weeks to a few months. However, seeking medical attention is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Treatment options may include:

  • Antibiotic eardrops: If an infection is present, your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotic eardrops to prevent further complications and promote healing.
  • Pain relievers: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help manage discomfort associated with a ruptured eardrum.
  • Ear protection: Avoiding water exposure and using earplugs or a shower cap while bathing can help prevent water from entering the affected ear and reduce the risk of infection.
  • Surgical repair: In severe cases or when the eardrum fails to heal on its own, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair the perforation.

Your healthcare provider will assess your individual situation and recommend the most appropriate treatment plan for your specific needs.


Dealing with a ruptured eardrum can be a challenging and uncomfortable experience. By understanding the appropriate sleeping position and taking steps to promote healing, you can minimize discomfort and reduce the risk of complications. Remember to sleep on the unaffected side, use a supportive pillow, and avoid introducing any irritants into the affected ear.

If you suspect you have a ruptured eardrum, seek medical attention promptly for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment recommendations. With proper care and patience, most ruptured eardrums heal successfully, allowing you to regain your normal hearing and quality of life.

Read More: Ear Pain When Swallowing: Causes, Symptoms, And Relief


Q: How long does it take for a ruptured eardrum to heal?

A: In most cases, a ruptured eardrum will heal on its own within a few weeks to a few months. However, the healing time can vary depending on the severity of the perforation and the underlying cause.

Q: Can I fly with a ruptured eardrum?

A: It’s generally recommended to avoid air travel until your eardrum has fully healed. The changes in air pressure during takeoff and landing can cause discomfort and potentially worsen the rupture. Consult your healthcare provider for specific advice based on your individual situation.

Q: Will my hearing return to normal after a ruptured eardrum?

A: In most cases, hearing returns to normal once the eardrum has fully healed. However, in some instances, particularly with severe or recurrent perforations, permanent hearing loss may occur. Regular follow-up with your healthcare provider can help monitor your healing progress and address any concerns.

Q: Can I prevent a ruptured eardrum?

A: While not all eardrum ruptures can be prevented, you can take steps to reduce your risk. These include treating ear infections promptly, avoiding exposure to loud noises, and using proper techniques when equalizing ear pressure during air travel or scuba diving. If you’re prone to recurrent ear infections, discuss preventive strategies with your healthcare provider.


  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ruptured-eardrum/symptoms-causes/syc-20351879

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