Should You Sleep on the Side of a Ruptured Eardrum? – How to Ease the Pain

woman wearing blue stud earring. should you sleep on the side of a ruptured eardrum

Should You Sleep on the Side of a Ruptured Eardrum?

I’ll never forget the pain.

I was in the kitchen cooking for the kids when I suddenly felt a sharp, stabbing pain in my ear. I tried to ignore it, but it got worse and worse until I couldn’t stand it anymore.

I went to the doctor and found out that I had ruptured my eardrum.

The doctor told me not to sleep on the side of the rupture, but I didn’t listen.

Big mistake.

The next day, the pain was so bad that I couldn’t even get out of bed.

If you have a perforated eardrum, don’t make the same mistake I did.

Should you sleep on the side of a ruptured eardrum?

It is not safe to sleep on the side of a ruptured eardrum. Sleeping on the affected side can lead to increased pressure in the ear, causing further pain and discomfort. It can also cause fluid to pool in the ear, increasing the risk of infection.

The recommended sleeping position for individuals with a ruptured eardrum is on the opposite side of the affected ear to relieve pressure and reduce the risk of fluid buildup.

If sleeping on the opposite side is uncomfortable, using a supportive pillow or sleeping on the back with the head elevated using extra pillows can alleviate discomfort and reduce the risk of fluid accumulation in the ear.

It is essential to avoid sleeping on the stomach as it puts more pressure on the ear.

How should you sleep with a ruptured eardrum?

If you have a ruptured eardrum, finding a comfortable sleeping position can be challenging. As your ruptured eardrum heals, it’s super important to sleep a particular way. It is generally recommended to sleep on your side or back to prevent further damage to the eardrum and reduce the risk of infection. Even if you no longer have leaking or symptoms.

woman lying on bed side sleeper

If you can only sleep on your side, sleep with your good ear pressed to the pillow or back sleeping may be the most comfortable position.

  • Always avoid sleeping on the side of the ruptured ear to reduce pain and prevent the risk of infection.
  • You can also try using a body pillow to support your head and neck in a more comfortable position. (just like when you are looking for a good sleeping position after gastric sleeve surgery)
  • avoid sleeping in a loud or noisy environment
  • and adjust your pillows and bedding to ensure maximum comfort and minimize pain.
  • With proper treatment, ruptured eardrums should heal within a few weeks.

This table provides a quick comparison of the potential benefits and drawbacks of sleeping positions when dealing with a ruptured eardrum. It is really hard to find one like when you try to sleep with a sunburn. It can help readers make an informed decision about their sleep position based on their specific situation and preferences.

Sleeping PositionProsCons
Side– Relieves pressure on the affected ear– Risk of inadvertently pressing on the affected ear, causing discomfort or pain
Back– Minimizes direct pressure on the ear– Can lead to increased snoring, potentially affecting sleep quality or causing discomfort for some individuals
Stomach– Least pressure on the ears– May strain the neck or back over time, potentially causing other sleep-related issues
pros and cons of sleeping positions

Is it safe to sleep on a ruptured eardrum?

It is not safe to sleep on the side of a ruptured eardrum. The ear is made up of three parts: the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The eardrum is a thin membrane that separates the outer ear from the middle ear. Sleeping on the affected side can put pressure on the eardrum and increase the risk of further injury and infection.

If the eardrum ruptures, it can cause pain, hearing loss, and an increased risk of infection. It is recommended to sleep on the opposite side or use a supportive pillow to elevate the head.

What if both eardrums are ruptured?

If both eardrums are ruptured, back sleeping may be the most comfortable position until the ears heal, with the head elevated to a few inches. If you experience severe pain or other symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

What is the best sleeping position for a ruptured eardrum?

The best sleeping position for someone with a ruptured eardrum is on the opposite side of the affected ear, with the infection-free ear facing down. Using a body pillow to support your head and neck can help maintain the recommended sleeping position.

Remember, finding a comfortable and safe sleeping position is crucial in ensuring a peaceful and restorative sleep or non-sleep deep rest during your recovery – some sleeping positions even affecting the shape of your face so choose carefully.

How can a ruptured eardrum affect sleep?

A ruptured eardrum can cause pain, discomfort, hearing loss, and tinnitus, all of which can interfere with sleep. Sleeping on the affected ear can increase pressure and cause further discomfort and pain, making it difficult to fall asleep.

Using earplugs or cotton balls can also help to prevent fluid from entering the ear and reduce the risk of infection. Additionally, avoiding loud or noisy environments and using noise machines to reduce noise levels can help you get a good night’s sleep without putting your health at risk.

Needless to say, this is not the perfect time to sleep with your earpods in

What Are the Potential Risks of Sleeping with Earphones In?

Sleeping with earphones can pose potential risks to your health. The prolonged use of earphones while sleeping can lead to ear canal blockage, which may result in painful infections. Additionally, wearing earphones for extended periods can contribute to the development of tinnitus or impaired hearing. It’s crucial to prioritize your auditory health and consider alternative solutions for a peaceful night’s sleep.


What are the symptoms of a ruptured eardrum?

A ruptured eardrum can cause a variety of symptoms, including

  • sudden intense discomfort in the ear,
  • tinnitus, and ear discharge that may resemble pus or blood.
  • spinning sensation,
  • dizziness,
  • nausea,
  • fever.
  • temporary hearing loss, which usually resolves itself within a few days.

What causes a ruptured eardrum?

The most common causes of a ruptured eardrum are middle ear infections, sudden changes in pressure, and injuries.

  1. Middle ear infections are particularly common in children, and they cause fluid and pus to build up behind the eardrum, leading to high pressure that can tear a hole in the eardrum.
  2. Sudden changes in pressure can also cause a ruptured eardrum, such as when flying, scuba diving, or driving in the mountains.
  3. Injuries to the ear, including foreign objects, cotton swabs, or even a powerful slap or explosion, can also lead to a ruptured eardrum.
  4. Loud noises, such as those from an explosion or being close to large speakers at a concert, can also cause eardrum damage.

The Eustachian tube is a narrow tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. Its primary function is to equalize the pressure between the middle ear and the external environment. It helps regulate pressure changes and maintain the appropriate pressure level in the middle ear. When pressure inside the middle ear becomes imbalanced due to factors like altitude changes, allergies, or respiratory infections, the Eustachian tube opens briefly to equalize the pressure.

The Eustachian tube is connected to two main areas: the middle ear and the nasopharynx.

  • Middle Ear: The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. It starts from the middle ear, which is the space behind the eardrum, and extends towards the nasopharynx.
  • Nasopharynx: The other end of the Eustachian tube opens into the nasopharynx, which is the upper part of the throat located behind the nasal cavity.

This process allows the air to enter or leave the middle ear, restoring the balance. In the case of a ruptured eardrum, there is a tear or hole in the eardrum, which is the thin membrane separating the outer ear from the middle ear.

Should I seek medical attention if I have a ruptured eardrum?

If you suspect that you have a ruptured eardrum, it is important to seek medical attention if you experience severe pain, pus or discharge from the ear, fever, bleeding, dizziness or vertigo, or difficulty hearing. These symptoms indicate a serious condition, such as damage to the inner ear.

It is also important to talk to your doctor if you are in pain or believe that the ear trauma was caused by an infection or bacteria.

What home remedies can I use to treat a ruptured eardrum?

Here are some home remedies that can help treat the trauma of a ruptured eardrum:

  1. Rest and avoid strenuous activities
  2. Apply a warm compress for 10-15 minutes
  3. Avoid getting water in the ear
  4. Antibiotics
  5. OTC painkillers
  6. Use over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  7. Protect the ear from loud noises and changes in pressure
  8. Do not insert anything in the ear
  9. Coating a cotton ball in petroleum jelly and gently placing it in your ear while you bathe or shower
  10. Keep things quiet and avoid wearing ear plugs or in-ear headphones
  11. Avoid swimming and cleaning your inner ear with Q-tips

How to apply warm compress to ruptured eardrum?

Applying a warm compress to the ear for comfort if you have a ruptured eardrum and your healthcare provider advises applying a warm compress, here are some general steps you can follow:

  1. Prepare a warm compress: Take a clean towel or cloth and soak it in warm (not hot) water. Squeeze out any excess water to avoid dripping.
  2. Test the temperature: Ensure that the compress is at a comfortable and safe temperature by testing it on the back of your hand or forearm before applying it to your ear. It should be warm but not hot.
  3. Position the compress: Gently place the warm compress against the outer ear on the affected side. Make sure it covers the entire ear.
  4. Hold in place: Keep the warm compress in place for around 10 to 15 minutes. You can use a gentle hand to hold it against the ear or find a comfortable position to secure it.

What is barotrauma?

Barotrauma refers to injury or damage caused to body tissues due to changes in pressure. It commonly occurs when there is a significant difference in pressure between the environment and a body cavity or organ. The term “baro” refers to pressure, and “trauma” refers to injury.

Barotrauma can affect various parts of the body, but it is most often associated with the ears, sinuses, and lungs. Here are a few specific types of barotrauma:

  1. Ear Barotrauma: This occurs when there is a rapid change in pressure, such as during airplane takeoff or landing or scuba diving. The pressure change can cause discomfort, pain, and damage to the eardrum or middle ear structures. Symptoms may include ear pain, hearing loss, dizziness, or a feeling of fullness in the ears.
  2. Sinus Barotrauma: Similar to ear barotrauma, sinus barotrauma happens when there is a pressure imbalance affecting the sinuses. It can cause pain, pressure, or a feeling of congestion in the face or forehead.
  3. Pulmonary Barotrauma: This type of barotrauma affects the lungs. It can occur when there are sudden and extreme pressure changes, such as during scuba diving ascent or if someone breathes in too much air while holding their breath. Pulmonary barotrauma can cause lung over-expansion, leading to lung tissue damage, pneumothorax (collapsed lung), or other complications.

Barotrauma can range from mild discomfort to severe injuries requiring medical intervention. Prevention and proper equalization techniques, such as yawning, swallowing, or using specialized devices (e.g., earplugs for flying or equalizing techniques for scuba diving), are important to mitigate the risks associated with pressure changes.


By lezt

Lez Taylor, Founder and CEO of Corala Blanket. She tried every sleep system and trick to conquer her insomnia for good.