Bat ears: Description, Causes and Risk Factors:Bat ears is a condition affecting the physical appearance of ears, making them look prominent. The rim of the ear normally is 1-2 cm from the scalp, but in a person who has bat ears, this distance is more denoting abnormally prominent ears. This is mostly a congenital condition, present since birth.Bat ears are not quite a common occurrence. The condition is present right from birth and quite apparent right from the very beginning. Both genders are equally affected.Bat ears are due to lack of adequate folding of the ear cartilage during the intrauterine growth of baby i.e. when the baby is developing inside the mother's uterus during pregnancy. The reason for this is not known, but this condition generally has a familial tendency.One or both ears may be affected by this condition; however in most cases, only one ear is affected. There may be a missing or a poorly developed cartilage fold, resulting in prominent ears. Alternatively, there may be an excessively deep ear-well (concha), causing prominence of the ear. Also, the increased angle between back of the ear and the side of the head may also lead to this condition. The condition results in aslightly distorted facial appearance and can be easily diagnosed at birth.This condition does not resolve spontaneously. After the age of six months, surgical correction is currently the only available method of addressing it. There is generally an excellent rate of satisfaction after successful surgery with reports of improved self-esteem, social life and leisure activities.Symptoms:The hearing is normal except in very rare cases when the hearing may get impaired. Psychological and emotional problems may be seen in affected individuals due to physical disfigurement and teasing by others. This may also result in loss of self-confidence.Diagnosis:An Otolaryngologist will perform a physical exam and determine the exact nature of the abnormality and then discuss with the patient and the family about surgical and non-surgical options.Treatment:The treatment of bat ears includes both surgical and non-surgical modalities. In the first few weeks of life the cartilage of the infant's ear is soft, and thus can be moulded by repeated application of pressure (through splint) from outside. This may lead to its re-shaping eventually. The splint needs to be worn continuously for several weeks, till the correction is achieved. But as the child becomes older, his/her cartilage stiffens and the duration of application of splint needs to be longer. After six months of birth, this technique is not quite effective and a surgical correction is often required, which is usually done after 5 years of age.NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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