Otosclerosis is an abnormal growth of bone in the middle ear that causes hearing loss. It typically begins in the early 20s, and is the leading cause of middle ear hearing loss in young adults.
What Causes Otosclerosis?
The exact cause of otosclerosis is not known, but evidence suggests a genetic link passed down from parent to child. Middle-aged Caucasian women are most at risk, and hormonal changes seem to be a contributing factor including pregnancy and menopause. This bone growth usually occurs around the stapes bone in the middle ear, preventing it from moving freely which is essential to proper hearing.
What Are the Symptoms of Otosclerosis?
Gradually worsening hearing loss is the primary symptom of otosclerosis. It may begin with an inability to hear low-pitched sounds or whispers. Other symptoms may include tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and vertigo or dizziness in rare cases.
How is Otosclerosis Diagnosed?
The symptoms of otosclerosis are like those of other conditions, so a thorough examination by an otolaryngologist is essential in ruling out other problems and diagnosing the disease. A hearing test will usually show signs of conductive hearing loss. Your doctor may also order a CT scan of your ears to help diagnose otosclerosis.
How is Otosclerosis Treated?
Mild cases of otosclerosis can be treated with a hearing aid designed to amplify sounds. There is no effective drug treatment for otosclerosis, although orally ingested sodium fluoride can slow disease progression. There are many side effects associated with sodium fluoride, and it cannot reverse hearing loss.
In more advanced cases, a surgical procedure known as a stapedectomy is often recommended and performed. In this surgery, the affected stapes bone is removed and replaced with a prosthetic device that enables the bones of the middle ear to resume movement, allowing sound waves to reach the inner ear, improving or restoring hearing.
There are inherent risks in any surgery. Speak to your doctor about the best treatment options for your hearing loss.
Call River ENT at (512) 677-6368 for more information or to schedule an appointment.