Otosclerosis can rob you of your ability to hear normally, but treatments can restore your hearing.
Otosclerosis is an inner ear condition that impacts the lives of more than three million Americans. It can afflict people of all ages and results in serious and permanent hearing loss if left untreated. Otosclerosis is a condition that results from the abnormal growth the middle ear bone. The bone stiffens and loses its mobility over time. It permits sounds to be absorbed by the eardrum but prevents the sounds from being transmitted to the cochlea.
- Otosclerosis often starts in one ear but progresses to the other over the course of time. People who suffer from it often start by losing their ability to hear low frequency noises.
- However, as the condition progresses, people also lose their ability to detect high-pitched noises as well.
What Causes Otosclerosis?
Otosclerosis confounds doctors and scientists because they cannot determine what exactly causes this condition. They continue to form theories about its root causes. Some of the factors believed to play a part in the onset of otosclerosis include:
- A previous measles infection
- Stress fractures in the middle ear tissues
- Immune disorders
Some doctors also think that otosclerosis could be linked to the abnormal imbalance of inner ear cells known as cytokines.
Further, the symptoms of otosclerosis can often be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses. Some of the more common signs of otosclerosis are dizziness, problems with balancing, and tinnitus or the constant presence of sounds like whirring, ringing, and roaring.
Despite not knowing what causes otosclerosis, doctors can treat it using several different options. Your doctor will determine what course of remedy to use for you based on the severity of the condition and the level of hearing loss you currently suffer.
How is Otosclerosis Treated?
Your doctor may recommend one of several treatment options to you. The first choice involves doing nothing but monitoring the progress of the illness. Your physician would keep track of your hearing loss and the frequency of sounds that you can hear.
You also may be advised to wear hearing aids. Hearing aids may give you back some or all of your sense of hearing. You may be able to hear low-pitched sounds, whispers, and other sounds that were once difficult to detect because of otosclerosis.
Finally, your physician may recommend that you undergo a type of ear surgery called a stapedectomy. A stapedectomy involves the removal of one of the middle ear bones. The bone is then replaced with a prosthetic bone. Your surgeon will use a laser to connect the prosthetic and the other bones of the middle ear together. This type of ear surgery has 95 percent success rate.