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, 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 vertigo or dizziness and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
How is Otosclerosis Treated?
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 in the lower frequency tones, a hallmark of otosclerosis.
The main options for otosclerosis include observation with repeated hearing tests, a hearing aid(s), or surgery. Observation is recommended only for mild hearing loss. Some medications have been reported to limit the worsening of otosclerosis, but there is no definitive evidence of preventing its progression. In more advanced cases, a surgical procedure known as a stapedectomy is often performed. In this surgery, part or all of 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.
Left untreated, otosclerosis will only get worse. The Center’s doctors of audiology have close working relationships with several otolaryngologists in the St. Louis area and will make accurate referrals so each patient has the opportunity for the best course of treatment.
Call the Center for Hearing & Speech at (314) 968-4710 for more information.