What Side Should I Sleep on with a Ruptured Eardrum?

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By Steven Hal

A ruptured eardrum, also known as a tympanic membrane perforation, can be a painful and delicate condition that requires careful consideration, especially when it comes to sleep positions. Choosing the right side to sleep on is crucial for minimizing discomfort and supporting the healing process. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the factors to consider and offer recommendations on the most comfortable sleeping positions for individuals dealing with a ruptured eardrum.

What Side Should I Sleep on with a Ruptured Eardrum?

Understanding a Ruptured Eardrum

A ruptured eardrum can occur due to various reasons, such as infections, injuries, or changes in pressure. Common symptoms include pain, hearing loss, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and sometimes drainage of fluids. While the healing process for a ruptured eardrum is generally natural and occurs over time, it’s essential to take precautions to avoid further irritation and promote a speedy recovery.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Sleep Position:

  1. Pain Sensitivity:
    The location and size of the rupture can influence pain sensitivity. Individuals may find that sleeping on one side is more comfortable than the other, depending on the affected ear.
  2. Fluid Drainage:
    If there is any drainage from the ear, it’s essential to avoid positions that could impede the natural flow of fluids. Sleeping on the side of the affected ear may lead to pooling of fluids and increased discomfort.
  3. Preventing Further Injury:
    To prevent accidental injury or additional stress on the ruptured eardrum, it’s advisable to choose a sleep position that minimizes contact with pillows or bedding.

Recommended Sleeping Positions for Individuals with a Ruptured Eardrum:

1. Sleeping on the Unaffected Side:

If the rupture is isolated to one ear, sleeping on the unaffected side can be the most comfortable option. This position minimizes direct pressure on the affected ear and allows for better support of the head and neck.

2. Back Sleeping:

Sleeping on your back is generally a safe option for individuals with a ruptured eardrum. It helps distribute body weight evenly and reduces the risk of unintentional contact with the affected ear. Placing a soft pillow under the head and neck can enhance comfort.

3. Elevating the Head:

Adding an extra pillow or using a wedge pillow to elevate the head slightly can be beneficial. This elevation can help prevent drainage issues and reduce the likelihood of fluids entering the ear canal during sleep.

4. Using a Neck Pillow:

For those who prefer side sleeping, using a supportive neck pillow can provide a cushion between the affected ear and the pillow. This can help maintain a more neutral head position and reduce the risk of irritation.

Sleeping Positions to Avoid:

  1. Sleeping on the Affected Side:
    Avoid sleeping directly on the side of the ruptured eardrum, as this can cause discomfort, increase pressure, and impede the healing process.
  2. Stomach Sleeping:
    Sleeping on the stomach can lead to the head being turned to one side, potentially putting pressure on the affected ear. This position may also hinder proper fluid drainage.
  3. Using High or Firm Pillows:
    Opt for softer pillows to avoid excessive pressure on the head and ear. High or firm pillows may cause the head to tilt at an uncomfortable angle.

Additional Tips for Comfort and Healing:

  1. Keep the Ear Dry:
    It’s crucial to keep the affected ear dry during the healing process. Use a cotton ball coated with petroleum jelly to protect the ear during showers or baths.
  2. Avoid Inserting Objects:
    Refrain from inserting cotton swabs or other objects into the ear canal. This can disrupt the healing process and increase the risk of infection.
  3. Follow Medical Advice:
    Adhere to any specific recommendations or instructions provided by your healthcare provider. They may suggest additional precautions or medications to aid in the healing process.
  4. Regular Monitoring:
    Keep track of any changes in symptoms and report them to your healthcare provider. Regular check-ups may be necessary to ensure proper healing.


Choosing the right side to sleep on with a ruptured eardrum is a crucial aspect of managing the condition and promoting healing. By considering factors such as pain sensitivity, fluid drainage, and preventing further injury, individuals can find sleep positions that offer comfort and support. It’s essential to prioritize the well-being of the affected ear and follow medical advice to facilitate a smooth recovery. As with any health condition, consulting with a healthcare provider for personalized guidance is recommended.

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