what side should i sleep on with a ruptured eardrum

Ease the Pain: What Side Should I Sleep on with a Ruptured Eardrum?

Ease the Pain: What Side Should I Sleep on with a Ruptured Eardrum?

If you’ve ever been (un)lucky enough to experience the agonizing pain of a ruptured eardrum, allow us to first offer you our most sincere condolences. As with most bodily ailments, a ruptured eardrum is not only deeply uncomfortable, but also gets in the way of many other important parts of life—including getting quality sleep. 

Here at Pillow Cube, getting quality sleep each night and helping you achieve that same feat is our ultimate goal. We’ve done our best to help you out by creating the perfect pillow for side sleepers with our Pillow Cubes that align your neck and spine and keep you cool through the night; but when other issues are interfering with your sleep, sometimes even the perfect pillow can’t solve all your problems.

If you’re a side sleeper (which, if you’re looking into our Pillow Cube, then you probably are), then you’re probably asking yourself, “What side should I sleep on with a ruptured eardrum?” The easy answer to that question is that you should try to sleep in the most comfortable position possible. However, getting comfy enough to sleep can often feel near impossible when pain is keeping you from achieving relaxation. Keep reading for tips on how to ease ear pain enough to get some decent rest, what not to put in your ear, and which side you should sleep on with a ruptured eardrum.

Question: How Do I Know If I Have a Ruptured Eardrum?

Ruptured eardrums very rarely happen out of the blue. One common cause of ruptured eardrums is untreated or especially severe middle ear infections, which causes the infected area of your ear to fill with fluid and pus, which can eventually build up enough pressure in your eardrum to rupture the delicate lining and leak out.

Eardrums can also be ruptured as the result of sudden changes in air pressure. When air pressure changes occur more gradually, the ear is equipped to perform equalizing functions so that your eardrum does not burst. You know how some people can’t seem to “pop” their ears when an airplane gets up in the air or when they drive up a mountain on a steep road, no matter how large they try to yawn or how much gum they try to chew? That’s the kind of pressure we’re talking about. However, if air pressure changes too quickly to allow your ears to equalize and acclimate to a new environment, then the sudden change can cause your eardrums to rupture. 

The most obvious sign that you are experiencing a ruptured eardrum is intense pain in your ear (or ears). You may also experience some level of hearing loss in your injured ear(s), or other hearing-related symptoms such as an unexplained ringing noise or other unusual auditory sensations. Another obvious sign is if you are noticing fluid, ranging between clear, yellowish, or bloody, draining out of your ear. 

Whatever the symptoms of your ruptured eardrum are, the most important thing after recognizing that there’s an issue is reducing pain and protecting your ear so it can heal.

side sleeper pillow

Question: What Side Should I Sleep On With a Ruptured Eardrum?

The question of which side you should sleep on with a ruptured eardrum is best answered in light of which ear is ruptured and/or infected—or, in a worst-case-scenario situation, if both of your ears are ruptured and/or infected. Most people find it extremely uncomfortable to put pressure on or near a ruptured eardrum, so if your right eardrum is ruptured then you’d be best off sleeping on your left side, and if your left eardrum is ruptured then you’d be best off sleeping on your right side. If both of your eardrums are ruptured, then it is best to sleep on your back so that neither ear is placed under pressure. 

No matter what side you sleep on, elevating your head is important for staying comfortable and helping your eardrums heal. Our Side Pillow Cube is perfect for aligning your spine at the optimal angle and creating the most comfortable position for your head while you rest.

Do Ear Drops Change Anything?

Some people may think that it is better to sleep on the side of the ear that has the ruptured eardrum so that any fluid draining out of your ear can exit out of your ear while you are sleeping. If this is your main concern, and if putting pressure on that ear by laying on it isn’t too painful, then that might be your best option. If that is the case, then we would recommend laying a towel or some other absorbent material on top of your pillow before laying down on it so that your pillow can stay nice and fresh until your ear is back in tip-top shape.

However, the downside to sleeping in a position that allows the infected fluid to drain out of your ear is that if you are using ear drops to heal your ruptured eardrum, then sleeping on the side of your infected ear will also cause the ear drops intended to heal you to drain out as well. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you sleep on the opposite side of your infected ear so that the ear drops and other medications can remain in your ear and aid in accomplishing the necessary healing process. 

how to heal ruptured eardrum

What NOT to do When You Have a Ruptured Eardrum

While our biggest piece of advice when it comes to reducing pain and speeding up the healing process in the case of a ruptured eardrum is to do whatever alleviates pressure and eases the pain, there are some things you should definitely not do—even if you come across a questionable online source that swears they’ve found the magical cure to end all ruptured eardrum pain. 

  1. DO NOT risk getting water in your ears by swimming, taking a bath, standing under a waterfall, or basking in the pouring rain for extended amounts of time. Aside from doctor-formulated ear drops, your ears need to stay dry in order to heal, and water can contain bacteria that can further infect your ruptured eardrum.
  2. DO NOT insert anything into your ear canal. Not a cotton swab, not a finger, not a pencil, not a candy cane. The last thing you want to do while the membrane of your eardrum is trying to heal is to tear it a second time.
  3. DO NOT try using herbal remedies to heal your ruptured eardrum. While many herbal remedies can aid in cleansing and killing bacteria, a ruptured eardrum requires pharmacy-level treatments, since it is not just a slight infection but is, in fact, a torn membrane wound that needs to heal.

Question: How Do I Heal My Ruptured Eardrum?

Healing a ruptured eardrum, like most healing processes, takes time, and patience is key. If you think you have a ruptured eardrum, you should make sure to see a doctor so that they can properly assess the situation and provide you with antibiotics and other medication, should that be necessary. However, there are also many things you can do yourself to aid your eardrum in healing.

Even though you should keep pressure off your ear, lightly applying a warm compress can help alleviate pain. Taking pain medicine will also help you greatly in the beginning stages of healing so that you can still accomplish daily responsibilities and sleep through the night.

As was previously mentioned, getting any kind of water in your ear when your eardrum is ruptured and infected can be very dangerous. Even if you think the water is clean, it might contain bacteria that would make your infection even worse and lengthen the healing process. However, even if you are careful to avoid water you might accidentally get water in your ear from, say, trying to take a shower (which we would definitely recommend trying to do, especially if your ear is taking a bit longer to heal). 

Never fear—there are a couple safe ways that you can dry out your ear if it gets wet. Start by simply turning your ear to the side so that any water in it can drain out, and give your ear a (very) gentle tug to release any water that gets stuck in a cranny. Next, you can use a cotton ball—NOT a cotton swab— and very gently press it to your ear. You should not insert anything into your ear; the cotton ball should only be used to absorb any water that is lingering around the outside part of your ear. Next, you can use a hair dryer set to a very low setting to dry out the remaining water in your ear.

Sleep can be difficult when you have a ruptured eardrum, so make every effort to create an environment for optimal sleep. An uncomfortable pillow can make matters worse, so don’t forget to invest in a pillow like the Side Cube to help alleviate any unnecessary discomfort. You will thank yourself!