Otosclerosis is a rare condition that involves abnormal bone growth in the patient’s ear. The result of this abnormal growth is that sound cannot be properly registered. Millions of people are affected by the condition, with middle-aged women most vulnerable.
A bone called the stape serves as one of the bones in the middle ear that help your brain process sound. Soundwaves cause the stapes to vibrate, which is processed by your brain as sound. Otosclerosis is often caused when the tissue around these bones grows too large and blocks the stapes from vibrating.
It should also be noted that the condition may have a strong hereditary link, but it can also be caused by bone fractures or cold air increasing blood flow inside your ears.
Left untreated, otosclerosis may lead to permanent hearing loss. If you notice any sudden and unusual symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Here, we will delve deeper into what otosclerosis entails and how to treat it best so that you can return to enjoying a high quality of life as quickly as possible.
How to Detect Otosclerosis Early?
Many patients with otosclerosis have trouble or cannot hear low-pitched sounds, such as a whisper. Many patients will also experience dizziness and may hear a strange ringing, hissing, or buzzing in their ears, known as tinnitus.
Balance problems may also worsen over time, with vertigo common in otosclerosis patients. In addition, acute hearing loss is also very common, with permanent hearing loss becoming the norm if the patient is not treated in time.
Otosclerosis symptoms will often begin with one ear before slowly moving to the other ear. It is a progressive condition, so you should call your doctor when you notice any symptoms.
How Can Otosclerosis be Diagnosed?
An examination by an ear doctor or ear, nose, and throat specialist will be required. They will need to examine your ears to determine if other health problems or disorders cause your unusual symptoms.
They may need to take several radiographs and perform a CT scan in some cases.
You may also need to see an audiologist to undergo hearing tests. An audiologist is a hearing specialist who can diagnose, measure, and treat hearing disorders via rehabilitation.
They will assess your equilibrium and your hearing using specialized procedures and instruments.
They may also produce a graph demonstrating how effectively the middle ear works to conduct sound and create a chart that showcases a patient’s hearing sensitivity. A hearing test can identify many hearing conditions, including otosclerosis.
What is the Treatment for Otosclerosis?
Unfortunately, otosclerosis cannot be treated with medication. However, there is hope that new therapies can be developed through continuous bone-remodelling research. If you are currently suffering from a mild form of the condition, you may be prescribed hearing aids.
The hearing aids are designed to amplify the sounds in and around your environment to help you hear better. Your doctor may monitor your condition over several months or years to evaluate its progression.
However, even most patients with mild otosclerosis will eventually require surgery.
A stapedectomy is performed to treat otosclerosis. A prosthetic apparatus is placed in the patient’s middle ear to bypass the problematic bone.
By doing so, sound waves will once again be able to reach the inner ear, helping restore hearing functionality in the process.
There is Help
Millions of people suffer in silence from otosclerosis, either ignorant of their condition or embarrassed. The good news is that surgery is highly effective in treating the condition, allowing patients to return to a normal level of hearing in many cases.
The condition is caused by an abnormal growth of certain bones in the patient’s middle ear. Hearing loss often starts small and in one ear before getting progressively worse and moving to the other ear.
Patients may also feel nauseous and dizzy, lose balance, and possibly injure themselves if they are not careful. Many patients cannot work or study due to some of the symptoms of otosclerosis, and they may avoid social interactions due to their poor hearing.
Furthermore, while no medications have been shown to treat the condition effectively, continual R&D has shown promise. However, hearing aids and surgery are the only known methods that can help treat otosclerosis.
If you are concerned that you may be affected by the condition, please consult with an ear physician or ENT. There is help.
What is Otosclerosis? – Symptoms, causes and treatment (hear-it.org)
How is otosclerosis diagnosed? | Canadian Academy of Audiology (canadianaudiology.ca)
What Is Otosclerosis? Symptoms & Diagnosis| NIDCD (nih.gov)