Ear infections are a common occurrence especially to younger children under the age of 5. The main reasons being younger children tend to touch their ears and even insert objects which can easily lead to common ear infections. However, if you notice that your child keeps getting ear infections and they are not responding to medication then it is time to take your child to a specialized ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor. Your child may have developed Cholesteatoma. This is not a condition that only affects children but can affect anyone at any age.
What Is Cholesteatoma?
A Cholesteatoma is a growth that is non-cancerous that develops in the middle ear right behind the eardrum and in the mastoid bone behind the ear canal. This type of growth starts as a small cyst and becomes bigger with time.
Causes Of Cholesteatoma
The most common cause of a Cholesteatoma is when the tube which allows air to move from the middle ear to the back of your nose to equalize pressure functions poorly. This tube is known as the Eustachian tube. What causes multiple ear infections due to Cholesteatoma is the fact that the growth is lined by skin and with time this skin sheds and new skin is made. The shed skin then accumulates in the ear and with time it becomes food for bacteria which in turn infect the ear. When the ear gets infected multiple times this makes it hard to get rid of the infection and in turn the Cholesteatoma continues to grow.
Signs Of Cholesteatoma
The obvious sign that one may be suffering from Cholesteatoma is the continual ear infections that don’t respond to medication. The growth within your mastoid and middle ear may affect your balance and hearing depending on the severity of the situation. Since the growth starts as a small cyst, you may have mild symptoms at first but as the Cholesteatoma continues to grow you may experience:
- Pressure in your ear
- Fluid draining from your ear which is odorous
- The infected ear may experience hearing loss
Treating A Cholesteatoma
To confirm the presence of a Cholesteatoma, a CT scan is performed. If the examination confirms it, the treatment that follows includes thorough ear cleaning. After cleaning you are required to take some antibiotics and use ear drops to take care of the ongoing infections. To completely treat a Cholesteatoma, surgery follows to remove the growth and later on a surgical reconstruction is done to the ear drum.
If you or your child is diagnosed with Cholesteatoma, it is important to seek immediate treatment to avoid the situation from getting worse. As mentioned earlier, if Cholesteatoma is left untreated, it can cause balance, hearing and severe infection issues. Having recurring ear infections does not automatically mean that you suffer from a Cholesteatoma. If you have a long history of ear infections, you may need to visit your doctor to get to the root cause of your problem. If you have Cholesteatoma, you need to have the surgery to remove it done by an ear specialist.