Q My GP has re­ferred me to ENT in case my ear dis­charge is a cholesteatoma. What is this?

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Short Story By Elizabeth Dale -

AEar dis­charge is of­ten due to in­fec­tion of the skin lin­ing the ear canal, usu­ally af­ter swim­ming or trauma (such as scratch­ing). It can be very painful and af­fect hear­ing, but usu­ally clears with an­tibi­otic drops. How­ever, the dis­charge can make it dif­fi­cult to see the eardrum, and may even be com­ing through a hole (per­fo­rated eardrum) pro­duced by a mid­dle-ear in­fec­tion. As well as ear pain, dis­charge and deaf­ness, mid­dle-ear in­fec­tion can cause dizzi­ness, tin­ni­tus (noises) and fa­cial numb­ness, or spread in­ter­nally, caus­ing se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions in­clud­ing nerve dam­age, cholesteatoma and brain ab­scesses. In a cholesteatoma, skin and other cells grow in­side the mid­dle ear, lead­ing to dis­charge, deaf­ness and in­va­sion of nearby tis­sues and bone. They may be trig­gered by pres­sure changes or in­fec­tion.

Your GP can’t rule out th­ese with­out tests, but the ENT spe­cial­ist can use suc­tion to clear the dis­charge so that they are able to look in­side your ear. You may also need to have a CT scan. Cholesteatomas can usu­ally be re­moved sur­gi­cally but they’re rare, so you’ll prob­a­bly be given the all clear.

A proper in­spec­tion is needed

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