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A ruptured eardrum is a tear or a hole in the eardrum, the thin membrane which separates the ear canal, from the middle ear. A ruptured eardrum impairs the transmission of sound, and may affect your hearing. A ruptured eardrum can also allow outside materials to more easily reach your middle ear, which can cause infection, pain, and ear drainage. Ruptured eardrums may heal within a few weeks without treatment.