Cholesteatoma is when this excess amount of earwax creates a skin cyst on the eardrum or eardrum retraction pocket.
The Causes Behind Cholesteatoma
Cholesteatoma develops for a few different reasons. The most common one is bad ventilation in the eustachian tube. This connects the middle ear to your throat, nose, and sinuses. It’s what controls the pressure behind your eardrum. When it fails to work correctly, it doesn’t drain the middle ear, retracting the eardrum and collecting earwax and skin cells. Allergies and colds can heighten your risk of developing cholesteatoma, as these can lead to eustachian tube dysfunction.
Symptoms of Cholesteatoma
Most of the time, patients don’t realize that what they are experiencing is a cholesteatoma. The condition is not painful unless an infection occurs. Patients should expect cholesteatoma if they experience these symptoms:
- Frequent earache
- Recurring ear infections
- Drainage of foul liquid from the ear, possibly bloody
- Hearing loss
- Ear feelings stuffy or full
If any of these sound familiar, let your ENT doctor know right away.
The only way to treat cholesteatoma is by removing the cyst from the ear. This is accomplished through surgical intervention. The location of the cholesteatoma determines the type of surgery. The patient undergoes testing before anything is scheduled. An examination of the ear can reveal the cholesteatoma, but not to its full extent. The patient needs a CT scan to provide precise imaging of the ear anatomy. The ENT doctor will also perform an audiogram, known as a hearing test. This indicates how much damage the cholesteatoma has caused.
Before surgery, follow any advice given by the ENT. The patient may receive medications that hinder the drainage, along with antibiotics to treat the infection. The procedure is typically performed in an outpatient facility. The surgery removes the skin and infection, along with reconstructing either the eardrum or hearing bones.
If you think you may be dealing with cholesteatoma, it’s important that you schedule an appointment with your Ears, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor right away.