Is it safe to fly with a perforated eardrum?

Yes, it is safe to fly with a perforated (burst) eardrum. But if you've had surgery to repair a perforated eardrum (myringoplasty), you shouldn't fly until your doctor or surgeon says it is safe to do so.

What is a perforated eardrum?

The eardrum is a thin layer of tissue that separates the outer ear from the middle ear. If you have a perforated or ruptured eardrum, it means there is a hole or tear.

A perforated eardrum is usually left to heal by itself, but surgery can sometimes be used to repair it. Read more about treating a perforated eardrum.

Flying with a perforated eardrum

When you fly, the air pressure around you changes quickly, especially during take off and landing, which can cause pain or discomfort in your ear.

When you have a perforated eardrum, the air pressure in your middle ear can balance out more easily with the pressure of the surrounding air, as the air is able to pass through the hole. This means flying with a perforated eardrum may actually cause less discomfort than usual.

Read the answers to more questions about travel health.

Further information

Page last reviewed: 17/09/2018
Next review due: 17/09/2021