MIDWEST ENT UPDATE 9/29/2020

As we approach fall and winter, we wish to update you on your ear nose and throat health. We recommend that you have your humidifiers inspected and cleaned. If you don't have one, this may be a good time to purchase. When heaters go on, so should humidifiers. In addition, nasal saline sprays and netty pots often times aid in healthy noses and throats. It is becoming increasingly well known how important good nasal breathing is for our overall health. I am sending a link to a recent story aired on CBS News, featuring James Nestor, author of the recent book, "Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art". It is very insightful and I hope you enjoy it.

We continue to take very strict COVID precautions. We have had no cases as a result anyone coming to our office or having surgery with us at Northwestern Hospital.
Flu season is rapidly approaching and strongly encourage the flu vaccine.
We are very pleased with our results of the Inspire(inspiresleep.com)procedure for sleep apnea. This has proven to be an excellent outpatient procedure for those who are not getting good results with CPAP.
As always, we offer a full range of services for your hearing health. We provide the most current technology for testing your hearing and providing the most appropriate hearing aids for each individual.
Please feel free to call the office(312-988-7777) for further information on all of the above or to set up an appointment. You may also send individual emails through our patient portal.

Wishing you all good health and safety,

Gordon J. Siegel, M.D.,FACS
Assistant Clinical Professor
Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery             
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

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  • What Is a Cholesteatoma?
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What Is a Cholesteatoma?

Cholesteatoma might sound like a scary illness, and although it is a serious condition, it is treatable by your local ENT. If you’re suffering from reoccurring ear problems, mention Cholesteatoma to your ENT at your next appointment. 

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.

It can cause symptoms including:

  • Fluid drainage in the ear
  • Foul-smelling drainage
  • Feeling pressure or fullness in the ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Pain
  • Numbness or weakness on one side of the face

Risk Factors

Developing congenital cholesteatoma is incredibly rare. However, it is possible to acquire it in adulthood.

Some of the risk factors of developing cholesteatoma include:

  • Re-occurring middle ear infections
  • Poor eustachian tube function
  • Genetics
  • Being of Caucasian descent (incidence is rarest in Indian Asians)
  • Being born with craniofacial syndromes such as cleft lip

How Is It Diagnosed?

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

Because of the severe side effects cholesteatoma might have, it's important for people to get checked out by a doctor should they have any symptoms or risk factors.

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