What is Cholesteatoma?
Cholesteatoma occurs when a large collection of skin cells occur deep within the ear. This growth of skin is where cholesteatoma gets its name, toma being the word for swelling or tumor. Fortunately, cholesteatoma presents as a non-cancerous cyst.
Cholesteatoma can be either genetic, known as congenital cholesteatoma, or develop later in life, known as acquired cholesteatoma. Both are caused by keratinizing cells in the temporal bone. Abnormal growths usually present in the middle ear behind the eardrum.
Signs and Symptoms
A cholesteatoma usually only affects one ear.
- Fluid drainage in the ear
- Foul-smelling drainage
- Feeling pressure or fullness in the ear
- Hearing loss
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Numbness or weakness on one side of the face
Developing congenital cholesteatoma is incredibly rare. However, it is possible to acquire it in adulthood.
- Re-occurring middle ear infections
- Poor eustachian tube function
- Being of Caucasian descent (incidence is rarest in Indian Asians)
- Being born with craniofacial syndromes such as cleft lip
A doctor will take a look inside your ear using an otoscope to determine if you have cholesteatoma. They can see the cholesteatoma, which often looks like a cyst made of skin cells or a mass of blood vessels.
If the cholesteatoma is too small to be detected, a CT scan may be ordered.
What are the Treatment Options?
Treatment for cholesteatoma often involves surgery for severe cases. However, if caught early, it can be treated through a round of antibiotics, ear drops, and cleaning your ear carefully.
The goal of the treatment is to reduce the chances of an infection occurring, reduce inflammation, and drain the ear of the cyst.
What If It Goes Untreated?
Surgery is perhaps the best way to treat cholesteatomas that won't go away, which is, unfortunately, quite common. Cholesteatomas tend to grow bigger and can eventually lead to:
- Destruction of surrounding tissues and bones
- Permanent facial nerve damage, including numbness
- Severe infections such as meningitis (although rare)
- Chronic ear infections
- Swelling of the inner ear
Practice Good Hygiene
Some ear infections occur as a result of a cold or flu, so it’s important that you protect yourself from viral infections to reduce your risk for an ear infection, too. This means practicing proper handwashing, avoiding those who are sick, and not touching your mouth or face.
Find Allergy Relief
Allergies can also cause some serious issues. If you find yourself getting ear infections around the wintertime this could be the result of allergies. To prevent swelling of the Eustachian tubes you should find an allergy nasal spray that can better control your symptoms and
Get the Flu Shot
As we mentioned above, getting the flu can also lead to an ear infection. So if you are someone who notoriously finds themselves battling an ear infection after the flu, the best way to protect yourself and those around you is to get the flu shot. The flu shot should be administered each year to those 6 months and older.
Avoid Cigarette Smoke
Smoking can also cause the Eustachian tubes of the ears to swell. This is why you should quit smoking if you currently smoke. It’s also particularly important for newborns and young children to avoid any environmental pollutants or smoky areas, as they are already particularly susceptible to ear infections and these environments can make it worse.
Breastfeed Your Newborn
Since children under 3 years old are particularly vulnerable to ear infections, one of the best ways to protect them is to breastfeed them. This is because breastmilk contains antibodies that can protect the baby from infections, including ear infections. It is recommended that women breastfeed their baby for at least the first six months, but can continue to breastfeed as long as they want.
If you are dealing with recurring or severe ear infections it’s always best to play it safe and to see a qualified ENT professional for an evaluation. Recurring ear infections can be a sign that something more is going on and warrants having it checked out.
It’s important to look to your environment and your lifestyle for clues as to what’s going on. For one, if you were out singing or talking in a loud club the night before you may have simply strained your vocal cords. If you have seasonal allergies such as hay fever, you may notice that you wake up with persistent scratchy or sore throats several months out of the year. If your bedroom is particularly dry, especially during the colder months, this could be another reason you wake up with sore throats.
There are a host of infections that also cause sore throats; however, they are often short-lived and don’t persist for more than 10 days. Viral infections are often to blame, and they will go away without treatment (antibiotics will not be effective against the common cold or influenza virus). People who deal with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) often complain of a scratchy or sore throat. If you are also dealing with heartburn or acid reflux two or more times a week, this could be the culprit.
- Waking up with a sore throat
- Persistent morning headaches
- Waking up tired despite a full night’s sleep
- Loud, chronic snoring
- Increased mood swings
- Trouble concentrating and poor memory
If you experience recurring or persistent sore throats it’s always a good idea to see your ENT doctor for a proper diagnosis so you know how to best treat your symptoms. Since some infections such as strep can be dangerous to both kids and adults, it’s important to know when to come in for treatment.
- You should see an ENT doctor right away if:
- You are having trouble swallowing or breathing
- You have extremely painful or swollen lymph nodes
- Your sore throat is accompanied by a high fever
- Your sore throat persists for more than a week
- You have trouble sleeping due to swallowing or breathing issues
What are the signs and symptoms of nasal polyps?
Nasal polyps are typically to blame for chronic inflammation and swelling of the nasal cavity. People with nasal polyps may not realize that they have them, but they may be more likely to deal with other problems such as chronic sinusitis.
Chronic sinusitis and other nasal issues are typically what bring people into our ENT practice in the first place. From there, we can run the appropriate diagnostic tests to see if you could be dealing with nasal polyps.
Other warning signs include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Postnasal drip
- Decreased sense of smell
- Loss of smell or taste
- Referred pain in the upper teeth
- Facial pressure and pain
- Recurring nosebleeds
If you are dealing with nasal symptoms that last more than 10 days, then it’s a good idea to see your otolaryngologist to find out what’s going on. After all, these symptoms can also be caused by other respiratory conditions that may require treatment or special care, and it’s important to be able to determine what’s causing your symptoms so we know how to best treat them.
How are nasal polyps treated?
Medication is typically the first line of treatment for managing symptoms of nasal polyps. The most commonly prescribed medications include:
- Antileukotrienes to reduce inflammation
If you are battling symptoms of chronic sinusitis, you could actually be dealing with nasal polyps. Any sinus or nasal symptoms that last for weeks on end should be evaluated by an otolaryngologist.
Sinuses serve a variety of purposes but their main role is to filter the air we breathe. Because of this, they are the most exposed to infections, also known as sinusitis. These can happen to just about anyone, but when they happen again and again we refer to this condition as chronic sinusitis. Although it can often be managed with medication and lifestyle changes, when sinusitis is chronic it can sometimes signify that the underlying problem may require a surgical solution. Only your ENT specialists can help to make that determination, so for more information reach out to your local experts of Century Ear, Nose, and Throat, Head and Neck Surgery, with offices in Orland Park, New Lenox, and Evergreen Park, IL.
Managing Sinusitis Symptoms
Mild sinusitis symptoms can generally be treated at home initially with plenty of rest to fight off the infection. Steam from a warm shower or a warm towel can be used to open and soothe the sinus passages. Over-the-counter decongestants and pain relievers can also be helpful, but for further relief, your doctor can prescribe medication and possibly antibiotics.
It's when the above-mentioned methods have not proven effective that your doctor may recommend surgery. There are various surgical sinus treatments the aim of all of them, in essence, is to remove the blockage to provide you with relief. Balloon sinuplasty is the most minimally invasive of the surgical options, it involves the insertion of a balloon catheter that is slowly inflated to expand the sinus opening. With functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) your doctor removes affected tissue, and sometimes small pieces of bone to achieve the same goal, but with different circumstances. Similarly, procedures such as image-guided sinus surgery and the Caldwell-Luc procedure are typically advised for more severe cases.
Sinus Surgery in Orland Park, New Lenox, and Evergreen Park, IL
Not every case of sinusitis will require surgery, but severe and chronic conditions can often be best served by a surgical option. Your path to relief begins with a consultation, so schedule one today with the professionals of Century Ear, Nose, and Throat, Head and Neck Surgery in Orland Park, New Lenox, and Evergreen Park, IL, by dialing 708-460-0007.
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