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Obstructive ear disease, also known as aural cholesteatoma, is a relatively common condition experienced by adult gerbils. It typically develops alongside or after an ear infection and is characterised by an overgrowth of epithelial skin cells caused by excess keratin in the middle ear. Obstructive ear disease can cause your gerbil to experience significant ear pain, so it's important to be aware of the signs of this condition and how it's treated. Read on to find out more about obstructive ear disease.
Signs Of Obstructive Ear Disease
As mentioned, obstructive ear disease can cause your gerbil to experience ear pain, and they may express being in pain by tilting their head frequently, rubbing their head against the sides of their enclosure or withdrawing from social contact. Some gerbils will also stop eating and drinking when they are in pain. Obstructive ear disease also causes discharge to seep from the affected ear, and this discharge typically has a foul smell.
How Obstructive Ear Disease Is Treated
If your gerbil has any of the symptoms mentioned above, have them checked by your vet. The vet will examine your gerbil's ear and may swab the discharge for analysis to establish if a bacterial infection is present. In some cases, your gerbil may also have to undergo an X-ray to rule out structural abnormalities or determine whether there's damage to the inner ear.
Anti-inflammatory ear drops and ear rinses can be used to reduce some of the symptoms associated with obstructive ear disease, but the only cure for the condition is to have the obstructive mass of cells surgically removed. Your vet may feel surgery is an option right away, or they may want to try and reduce inflammation in the inner ear first to increase ease of access to the obstruction during surgery. Additionally, if your gerbil isn't eating and has lost a lot of weight, your vet may want to rebuild their nutritional stores before attempting surgery.
After surgery, your gerbil will need a quiet, clean place to rest and recover at home. They should be kept away from any other pets or young children while they recover, and your vet may prescribe painkillers or prophylactic antibiotics to support their recovery. If you notice any signs of infection after surgery, such as localised redness, swelling or discharge, you should contact your vet right away.
Obstructive ear disease requires prompt veterinary care to prevent your gerbil experiencing unnecessary suffering. Contact your vet if your gerbil has any signs of this condition or if you have any concerns about the health of their ears.
To learn more, reach out to a veterinary service.