Hearing & Balance Doctors

What Is a Cholesteatoma? Symptoms and Treatment Options for You

You’re in the right place: here, we’ll discuss the causes and symptoms of them, as well as the best ways to treat them.

What Is a Cholesteatoma? Symptoms and Treatment Options for You

by | Apr 29, 2024 | Patient Resources

A cholesteatoma is a tumor that can grow in your middle ear and can be congenital (grown during development) or acquired (caused by pathologic changes within the ear after development). Acquired cholesteatomas are more common, while not fully understood medically yet. 

If you’re reading this, chances are you suspect you have a cholesteatoma, or you think a loved one may be suffering with one. You’re in the right place: here, we’ll discuss the causes and symptoms of them, as well as the best ways to treat them.

What Causes a Cholesteatoma? 

Cholesteatomas are epithelial tumors—meaning skin cells start to grow uncontrollably and create a mass that sits inside the middle ear. Typically, they’re benign tumors, harmless until they get infected and become much harder to cure, as antibiotics cannot affect them. 

Causes of cholesteatomas include chronic ear or sinus infections, colds, and allergies, as all of these affect the function of your Eustachian tube, which leads from the back of the nose to the middle of your ear.  

A malfunctioning Eustachian tube blocks air from flowing to the ear, which normalizes ear pressure; a partial vacuum within the tube can cause part of your eardrum to be pulled into your middle ear, which creates a cyst that can turn into a cholesteatoma. 

What Are Symptoms of a Cholesteatoma? 

With the correct tools, a hearing care professional can see if you have a cholesteatoma by looking into your ear; quite often, a small, white bulge behind the eardrum will be visible—and smellable, as the drainage caused from the tumor smells pretty foul. 

The corrosive nature of a cholesteatoma will also cause erosion to your middle ear ossicles, or the bones in your ear that help you hear. Experiencing sudden hearing loss in one ear could be a symptom of a cholesteatoma, but make sure to check for other symptoms before calling your hearing care doctor. 

How Do I Treat a Cholesteatoma? 

The most effective way to get rid of a cholesteatoma is through surgery to remove it from your middle ear entirely. 


If untreated, cholesteatomas can lead to deafness in the affected ear, facial nerve paralysis, and other brain-related complications, so it’s crucial that you get treatment for a cholesteatoma as soon as possible. 

How Hearing & Balance Doctors Can Help 

No matter your hearing challenge, our award-winning team of doctors are here to help you with every step on your hearing health journey. 

If you have questions you’d like answered before coming in to see us, or concerns about your unique situation that you need advice about, please feel free to request a callback and a member of our team will get in touch for a friendly, no-obligations chat. 

For those who want to get started with their hearing healthcare sooner, you can call your closest clinic in Utah: (435) 688-8991 or Nevada: (702) 896-0031. 

Hearing Health

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Dr. Richard Luekenga

Dr. Luekenga opened Hearing & Balance Doctors of Utah in 2005. Since that time he has been dedicated to creating state-of-the-art facilities filled with the latest technology along with the most qualified and caring hearing healthcare team. He received his Doctor of Audiology from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. His doctorate is supported by his B.A. at Utah State University, clinical fellowship at Bountiful Hearing Center and further clinical experience at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, IHC Hearing and Balance Center, The Kosair Children’s Hospital, Heuser Hearing Institute (Deaf Oral School), and Avada Hearing and Balance Center, to name a few. With this long list of experience, it is clear that Dr. Luekenga is very passionate about good hearing and is well-versed in the advances of hearing aid technology. He is equally as passionate about helping patients that feel off-balance, dizzy, lightheaded, or unsteady, and understands the need these patients have to get back on their feet! Additionally, he provides counseling and therapy for patients who experience tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in their ears).

    Request a Callback