If you suddenly notice hearing loss or discharge draining from the ear this can be rather unnerving. If you notice these symptoms it’s important that you visit an otolaryngologist right away, as you might be suffering from a cholesteatoma, a serious ear problem that can cause some long-term and serious complications if left untreated.
This condition causes a benign growth to form within the middle of the ear right behind the eardrum. While this can occur at birth, it most often appears in those who experience multiple middle ear infections throughout their life. Besides hearing loss and drainage (which typically omits a bad odor), you may also notice issues with balance or even paralysis of certain facial muscles. If you are experiencing any of the classic signs of a cholesteatoma it’s important that you seek proper medical attention right away and from a medical specialist like an ENT doctor who will know exactly how to diagnose and treat your ear condition.
Leaving a cholesteatoma untreated is not an option, as it will continue to grow and damage the eardrum, which will cause permanent hearing loss. The cyst will continue to grow and may even spread to the face, where you could also develop serious life-threatening conditions like meningitis or an abscess in the brain.
The best way to determine whether or not you have a cholesteatoma is to visit your ENT doctor who will be able to examine the inside of the ear with special instruments. In some cases, imaging tests may need to be performed, particularly if you are dealing with muscle paralysis or vertigo.
The only way to properly treat a cholesteatoma is with surgery where our otolaryngologist will carefully remove the growth from the ear. This is the only way to prevent it from growing any larger. Once we have determined that your symptoms are due to a cholesteatoma, we will provide you with antibiotics, ear drops and other medications that will help to reduce swelling and pain and also treat the infection prior to your surgery.
Cholesteatoma surgery is an easy outpatient procedure and it’s performed under general anesthesia so you will be asleep throughout the surgery. After we have removed the cyst you will still need to come in for another surgery so that we can repair any damage that was done to the ear and to make sure that the entire cyst was successfully removed. Even once the follow-up surgery is complete, you will want to keep up with regular visits to see your otolaryngologist to make sure the cholesteatoma doesn’t return.