When cells clump together, they can form a cyst, a small sac that’s filled with air, fluid, or something else. Sometimes, skin cells inside your ear can do this and cause a lump called a cholesteatoma.
The lump typically starts deep in your ear near your eardrum and grows toward your middle and inner ear. Cholesteatomas aren’t cancerous. But if you don’t treat them, they can cause problems, including hearing loss.
Cholesteatomas typically causes symptoms in only one ear. The signs include:
If you’ve had a cholesteatoma for a long time and haven’t treated it, it can grow into other areas of your ear, like the part you use for balance. More seriously, it can turn into an infection in your inner ear or even in your brain. This can cause pus-filled swelling in your brain or meningitis. Both are very rare.
A cholesteatoma can happen for several reasons:
There’s no medicine that will make a cholesteatoma go away. They usually need to be removed with surgery. It typically takes 2 to 3 hours, and you won’t need to stay in a hospital.
You’ll be given medicine to make you sleep, and the removal will be done in one of two ways:
Surgery often helps with some of your hearing loss, but not always.
Cholesteatomas can be aggressive. They can come back if they’re not removed completely, so it’s important to see your doctor for regular follow-up visits.