What Is Otosclerosis?
Otosclerosis is hearing loss that results due to a progressive overgrowth of the tiny bones (ossicles) in the middle and inner ear. It usually affects the stapes, a small bone that transmits sound vibrations. When a part of the bone grows abnormally, that growth will prevent the bone from vibrating the way it should. Over time, inner ear hearing can also be affected by otosclerosis due to new bone growth around the cochlea. The condition can run in families and usually develops at age 30 or later.
In the early stages, symptoms may not be noticeable, but as the disease progresses, people affected may experience:
- Hearing loss — Gradual loss of hearing in the affected ear.
- Dizziness — Feelings of unbalance, floating or spinning can lead to falls or injuries.
- Tinnitus — Patients may report a ringing, pulsing, buzzing or hissing noise in the ears.
Both nonsurgical and surgical treatments for otosclerosis exist, and treatment depends on the degree of hearing loss and patient preference.
- Stapedectomy or Stapedotomy Surgery — Surgery involves either drilling through the bottom of the stapes bone and placing a prosthesis in that hole (stapedotomy) or removing the entire bone and implanting a prosthesis (stapedectomy).
- Hearing aids — These will help with hearing loss due to the disease. As the disease progresses, more powerful hearing aids may be needed.
- Cochlear implants — A cochlear implant is an electronic sound processor, one part of which hooks over the ear and the other is implanted inside the ear. The two pieces are coupled by a powerful magnet. This might be needed if the otosclerosis has affected hearing in the inner ear in addition to causing stapes fixation.
- Sodium fluoride — This dietary supplement is used to speed up hardening of otosclerosis lesions to limit the damage they cause. It may have side effects, including nausea, itching and joint pain.
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