The cyst behind your ear can cause a variety of problems, such as itching, pain, and a lump. You may need a doctor’s care if the cyst becomes large enough to block the ear canal.
Depending on the size of the cyst, you may need to have the cyst drained and removed. This can often be done using a small tube or a laser. The removal process can take from a week to several weeks.
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor.
- A lump or mass in the ear
- Severe pain
- Hearing loss
- Ear pain that doesn’t go away
- Feeling like something is blocking the ear
- Ear pain
- Ear discharge
- Ear pain accompanied by fever
- Pain that doesn’t go away
What causes a cyst behind the ear?
A cyst behind the ear typically develops from a cyst behind the nose. This type of cyst can develop from a hair follicle or sebaceous gland.
In rare instances, cysts can develop from a gland in the middle ear. These cysts aren’t usually a cause for concern.
Causes of cysts behind the ear include:
- Acne. A cyst behind the ear is often the result of acne. This is when an oil gland grows too large to release oil from the skin.
- Congenital cysts. A cyst behind the ear is often the result of an abnormal opening of the ear canal during fetal development. These cysts can also be hereditary.
- Infection. An infection can cause a cyst behind the ear. This can occur if a cyst becomes infected and releases fluid.
- Tumor. A tumor can also cause a cyst behind the ears. This can occur if a cyst develops in the ear canal or middle ear space.
- Trauma. A cyst behind the ear can be the result of a trauma to the ear. This can include a blow to the ear, injury, or infection.
How is a cyst behind the ear diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform an examination and ask you about your symptoms. They may also order a CT scan, MRI scan, or an ultrasound to look for a cyst behind the ear.
If your doctor suspects that you have a cyst behind the ear, they may refer you to a specialist, such as an otologist. An otologist specializes in ear and head problems.
How is a cyst behind the ear treated?
Treatment depends on the size and location of the cyst. A doctor may drain the cyst. This involves removing the cyst with a small tube or laser.
If the cyst is very large and blocking the ear canal, a doctor may need to remove the cyst using a surgical technique called a craniotomy. With a craniotomy, a surgeon removes the cyst, allowing the ear canal to open up.
Your doctor may recommend that you see an otologist for further treatment. An otologist has specialized training in ear and head problems. They may recommend a variety of treatments, including:
- An ear pack. An ear pack is a soft, flexible material that helps your ear canal stay moist.
- A hearing aid. A hearing aid can help you hear better.
- Surgery. Surgery can remove the cyst, if needed.
What is the long-term outlook for a cyst behind the ear?
If you have a cyst behind the ear, your long-term outlook depends on the size and location of the cyst.
A cyst behind the ear that’s very large and blocking the ear canal may need to be removed using a surgical technique called a craniotomy. With this procedure, a surgeon removes the cyst, allowing the ear canal to open up.
The outlook for a cyst behind the ear depends on:
- The size of the cyst. A cyst behind the ear that’s relatively small and doesn’t block the ear canal has a good prognosis.
- The location of the cyst. A cyst behind the ear that’s very close to the eardrum or inside the eardrum has a poor prognosis.
- The cause of the cyst. A cyst that’s caused by an infection has a poor outlook.
Contact a doctor if you have any concerns about the cyst behind your ear.
Can a cyst behind the ear spread to other areas?
A cyst behind the ear isn’t usually contagious. This is because a cyst behind the ear isn’t very close to the eardrum.
However, if a cyst develops in the middle ear, it can spread to the middle ear or the inner ear.
This is because the cyst is close to the eardrum.
Can a cyst behind the ear cause hearing loss?
A cyst behind your ear can cause hearing loss.
This is because the cyst can cause excess fluid to build up in the ear. This can cause a buildup of fluid behind the ear. In turn, this can damage the tiny hair cells in the cochlea.
This can lead to hearing loss, even if the cyst doesn’t block the ear canal.
The following are possible causes of hearing loss:
- A buildup of fluid in the inner ear.
- A buildup of fluid in the cochlea.
- A buildup of fluid in the middle ear.
- A genetic condition.
- A tumor.
How can a cyst behind my ear be prevented?
You can prevent a cyst behind your ear by:
- Exercising your ears regularly.
- Avoiding spicy or salty foods.
- Using an ear plug.
Although you can’t prevent cysts from developing, you can reduce the chances of developing cysts. These include:
- Wearing a hearing aid.
- Avoiding substances that can cause acne.
A quick recap
- A cyst is a lump or mass of tissue that forms in a body cavity.
- A cyst may be behind an ear, in the middle ear, or in the throat.
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