Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis for Cholesteatoma

What You Need to Know about Cholesteatoma

Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis for Cholesteatoma

A cholesteatoma is a non-cancerous skin growth that starts with earwax and dead skin cells building up in your ear. When they clump together, they form a small sac filled with fluid or air referred to as a cyst. The buildup cyst eventually results in a lump, which is called cholesteatoma.

The lump can grow anywhere from your eardrum to the bone behind your ear. Cholesteatoma is a rare condition. It affects 9 out of 100,000 U.S citizens and men are more likely to acquire this condition than women.

Cholesteatoma can be categorized into two types. These are congenital and acquired cholesteatoma. A congenital cholesteatoma usually is present from birth, while the acquired type can show up at any age, affecting both children and adults.

As much as it’s not cancerous, a cholesteatoma can cause severe problems if left untreated. It can lead to the following:

  • Hearing loss
  • Vertigo
  • Ear infection
  • Tinnitus
  • Facial nerve damage

The worst-case scenario is that the infection can get into the brain and your inner ear, causing meningitis or brain abscess. Therefore, it is prudent you see a doctor if you notice anything unusual in your ear, especially an abnormal growth.

The good thing is that the condition is treatable. You don’t have to wait till you develop hearing problems to seek medical care.

Symptoms of Cholesteatoma

Cholesteatoma is dangerous if you have had it for an extended period without treatment, which mostly happens if you don’t know whether you have it. It’s essential to be aware of the cholesteatoma symptoms for prompt diagnosis.

The symptoms include:

  • Persistence bad-smelling discharge from the ear
  • Pain in your ear
  • Trouble hearing with one ear
  • A fullness feeling in your ear
  • Ear infection
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Weak facial muscles on the affected ear
  • Ear discomfort

On the onset of a cholesteatoma, symptoms are mild. However, as a cholesteatoma grows in size, symptoms become more severe. To note also is that a cholesteatoma affects one ear.

If you have had any of the above signs, wait no more. Visit our ENT doctor in Los Angeles for proper diagnosis and medical care.

Causes of a cholesteatoma

Cholesteatoma can occur due to several reasons. Let’s explore some of the significant causes of cholesteatoma.

    • Ear injury or infection
      Injury or infection usually occurs after an ear operation, an allergy, or a cold. As a result, the Eustachian tube fails to work efficiently, and a vacuum forms in the middle ear. This vacuum sucks in the eardrum, forming a sac. The sac becomes a great place where skin cells collect, eventually becoming a cholesteatoma.
      Generally, ear infection is the most common cause of a cholesteatoma.
    • Eustachian tube problem
      The Eustachian tube is the tube that connects your ear and your nose. If this tube fails to work correctly for any reason, the eardrum cannot handle pressure changes. As a result, your eardrum collapses, creating a pocket where dead skin cells build up, forming a cholesteatoma.
    • Congenital (congenital disability)
      Although rare, a cholesteatoma can be due to a congenital disability. In this case, a cholesteatoma forms when babies are still developing. It happens when part of the ear becomes trapped in the bone as it grows.

Study shows that 2-4 percent of children aged between four and six years with a cholesteatoma, developed at birth. It is also prudent to note that children with a cleft palate condition are more prone to getting a cholesteatoma.

Is cholesteatoma treatable? Yes, it can be treated. All you need is a proper diagnosis. If unsure of where to start, worry not. At Westside Head & Neck, we have an ENT doctor for cholesteatoma treatment.

Diagnosis for Cholesteatoma

An ENT specialist in LA will conduct a physical examination and take your medical history. They will then examine inside your ear with an otoscope. If your doctor suspects you have a cholesteatoma, he will order a further test. These tests will include image scans to examine your cholesteatoma closely.

The scans include:

      • MRI: An MRI is crucial when your doctor suspects that the infection has spread to your brain.
      • CT scan: Your doctor gets to see a detailed image of the blood vessels, soft tissues, and bones inside your ear. This helps in figuring out the size and position of the cholesteatoma. Additionally, your doctor gets to see whether it has grown into your bone, which can damage your hearing. This scan is ideal if surgery is the only treatment option.

In case you have a cholesteatoma, worry not. Book an appointment with an ENT doctor for cholesteatoma surgery in Los Angeles for a comprehensive treatment.


Lucky for you if the cholesteatoma is small and can be contained. Your doctor can regularly clean your ears, which can be an excellent form of treatment.

On the other hand, if a cholesteatoma is big enough, no medicine can make it go away. The only treatment is through surgery.

Cholesteatoma Surgery in LA

It’s practically impossible to prevent congenital cholesteatoma cases, but children can receive early treatment with the correct diagnosis and treatment. In the case of acquired cholesteatoma, you may treat your ear infections properly, but still, cholesteatomas may form.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck surgery recommends visiting a doctor if one develops any of the symptoms mentioned. To that end, early treatment is essential to deter any complications. The good thing is that the treatment is usually successful, so worry not.

If you are in need of abnormal ear growth treatment in Los Angeles, you are in good hands at Westside Head & Neck. We have head and neck doctors waiting for you. For any growth in your ear, our LA abnormal ear growth doctor is ready to help you. Also, if you require cholesteatoma surgery in Los Angeles, your search has ended. Call us today.

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