Q:

What is a retracted eardrum?

A:

Ear Health states that a retracted eardrum is one that has been sucked in by an imbalance in air pressure on each side of the eardrum. A common symptom of a retracted eardrum is dulled hearing, which occurs because of the eardrum's inability to vibrate. If left untreated, a retracted eardrum can lead to fluid build-up in the ear as well as middle ear infections

Based on information from ENTSpecialists, the air pressure in the ear is normally balanced by the Eustachian tubes, which connect the middle ear behind the eardrum to the back of the nose. Although normally closed, the Eustachian tubes can open during chewing, yawning or swallowing. These brief openings allow air pressure in the middle ear to equalize and also provide a drain for any fluid build-up.

According to ENTSpecialists, blockage of the Eustachian tubes can lead to negative pressure in the middle ear. Over time, this negative pressure can cause a retracted eardrum. Children under 4 years old still have developing Eustachian tubes and can be prone to ear infections and/or fluid build-up.

According to Ear Health, other symptoms of Eustachian tube disorder can include feeling of fullness in the ear, dizziness, ringing or buzzing, and pain.


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