As the cholesteatoma enlarges, it can cause pressure in the ear as well as hearing loss. There may also be ear drainage, sometimes with a foul odor.
It is usually caused by repeated infection or poor eustachian tube function.
Hearing and balance tests, and CAT scans of the skull next to the ear are conducted to determine the extent of the growth.
Initial treatment may include a careful cleaning of the ear, antibiotics, and ear drops. Cholesteatomas usually require surgical treatment to prevent serious complications.