• Protruding ears come in many forms, on a variety of people and for different reasons. Infants can be born with protruding ears or folded ears and some will develop normal ear shape after birth, others will not. Some protruding ears seem to have a Dumbo-like appearance, while others protrude from the lobe like abnormally elongated lobes. Ears can protrude due to a falling over of the upper ear like a flopped-over ear. As people age the tissue of the ear (cartilage) can build up and cause the appearance of protruding ears.


  • There are many causes for protruding ears ranging from genetics or birth defects to trauma or nerve damage. Many infants are born with protruding, floppy or abnormal ears. For infants it can be just a developmental defect; protruding ears are the most common birth defect in infants because of the very delicate process of their development in the womb. A baby can be born with abnormal-looking ears and be perfectly healthy and eventually grow out of the protruding ears. In some infants, flopped over and protruding ears are a sign of a greater chromosomal abnormality and are usually a doctor’s first sign along with widely spaced eyes to do chromosomal testing. Protruding ears along with other physical defects can be a sign of Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders. In adults, trauma to the ear or side of the head can damage the delicate cartilage of the ear and cause protruding or flopping. Most commonly seen in boxing as cauliflower ear, this is a form of permanent protruding from repeated trauma to the cartilage of the ear. Nerve disorders like Bell’s palsy can cause drooping of the ears because of the loss of facial nerve function usually on one side of the face, causing the entire side to droop. The cartilage in the human body never stops growing, although it is at an extremely slow rate as we age; ears and noses continue to get larger. In some people as they age the ears become so large that they will start to protrude, more so in people who had larger ears to begin with.



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