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Cholesteatoma (chronic suppurative otitis media): Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About cholesteatoma (chronic suppurative otitis media)

Cholesteatoma is a disorder of the ear, which is an organ of hearing and maintaining equilibrium. The ear is divided into various parts namely the external ear (pinna), ear canal which joins the external ear with the middle ear, the middle ear and the inner ear.

As the name suggests, chronic suppurative otitis media is a longstanding, pus forming infection of the middle ear which may result in a serious ear problem called cholesteatoma. This cholesteatoma is a progressive growth of the skin cells in the middle ear which protrude in from ear drum. Cholesteatoma may cause hearing impairment and body imbalance.

Cholesteatoma (chronic suppurative otitis media): Incidence, age and sex

Chronic suppurative otitis media is not an uncommon condition in general condition. It can occur in any age group and no gender bias is obvious. The incidence of cholesteatoma is low due to timely elimination of the middle ear infection which is its chief causative factor.

Signs and symptoms of cholesteatoma (chronic suppurative otitis media): Diagnosis

Cholesteatoma is benign and slow growing, thus providing ample time to be diagnosed early in the course of disease. The clinical features include pain in the affected ear along with discharge which may be foul smelling. Cholesteatoma may damage the small ear bones in middle ear, thereby causing a break in the conduction of sound. This manifests as hearing loss in the affected ear. In advanced cases, cholesteatoma growth may invade the inner ear and damage the semicircular canals, resulting in dizziness or vertigo.

It is advisable to consult an ear specialist who shall examine the ear with an instrument named otoscope which is an instrument to examine the inside of ear. Audiometry tests may be done to check for conductive hearing loss. Imaging diagnostics like CT scan or MRI may also help in establishing the diagnosis.

Causes and prevention of cholesteatoma (chronic suppurative otitis media)

Cholesteatoma can be present since birth but such incidences are rare. It most commonly arises as a complication of longstanding infection of the middle ear. This infection may puncture the ear drum or retract it inside creating a cystic growth which is lined with skin cells. This growth is slow growing and may result in the destruction of small ear ossicles which are responsible for conducting sound in the ear. It may also spread to the inner ear and destroy semi circular canals which are responsible for maintaining body equilibrium.

Cholesteatoma (chronic suppurative otitis media): Complications

The cholesteatoma growth may progress to impinge upon the facial nerve which passes adjacent to the ear. This may result in facial palsy manifested with drooping of the face and inability to close eye on one side. Other complications which may be encountered are brain abscess, meningitis or deafness in one ear.

Cholesteatoma (chronic suppurative otitis media): Treatment

Cholesteatoma is a treatable condition and surgical intervention is the management of choice. The surgical resection of cholesteatoma growth followed by mastoidectomy helps in improving the hearing loss in a majority of the affected individuals. It is advisable to consult the specialist periodically, to detect any relapses which may be seen.