Most people probably haven’t heard of otosclerosis, a disease involving abnormal bone growth in the middle ear. The condition, which can keep sound from reaching the critical inner ear, mainly causes gradual, usually correctible hearing loss in one or both ears but also includes other symptoms such as tinnitus and vertigo.
To help you understand otosclerosis, we’re sharing four important facts to know.
1. Otosclerosis Can Be Inherited
Over 3 million Americans live with otosclerosis, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)*. The exact cause isn’t yet known, but theories include association with problems such as prior measles infection, inner-ear injury, and immune disorder, per the NIDCD.* Though most anyone can be affected by otosclerosis, it’s more prevalent in women and often involves a family history of the disease.
2. Symptoms Often Start in One Ear
As one of the main symptoms of otosclerosis, hearing loss typically starts in one ear and might also develop in the other ear. Initially the hearing loss may affect the lower frequencies — potentially interfering with your ability to follow discussions in groups or hear low-pitched sounds — but could eventually lead to further hearing loss.
In addition to gradual hearing loss, some other symptoms of otosclerosis include:
- Ringing, buzzing, humming, or hissing in the ears — also known as tinnitus
- Dizziness or vertigo, both of which can affect your ability to maintain your balance
3. Evaluation & Diagnosis Require an Expert
Otosclerosis can be difficult to identify, making it important to seek professional help if you’re experiencing hearing that’s worsening over time or encountering other potential symptoms such as dizziness or tinnitus. At Hackensack Audiology & Hearing Aid Associates, our experienced team can evaluate your symptoms, including:
- Ruling out other conditions or problems that may be causing your symptoms
- Referring you for any other tests that might be needed
- Determining the nature and extent of any potential hearing loss and the best treatment approach
4. The Condition Is Treatable
Once a diagnosis of otosclerosis is made, effective treatment options are available based on factors such as the extent of your condition. Potential solutions include:
- Hearing aids to address hearing loss in milder cases of the disease. Though hearing technology will not reverse the loss of hearing or halt a gradual progression of hearing loss, it can help maintain your ability to effectively communicate and may help relieve tinnitus or vertigo.
- Stapedectomy surgery, which may partially or fully restore hearing loss associated with otosclerosis. This surgical procedure involves replacing the damaged stapes bone in the middle ear with a prosthetic device.
- Stapedotomy surgery, in which the stapes bone isn’t completed replaced but instead perforated with a hole — usually by laser — for partial replacement with a prosthesis to help sound travel to the inner ear.
If you or a loved one suspects symptoms of otosclerosis or is experiencing any hearing difficulties, tinnitus, or balance problems, don’t wait. Contact our caring team for an evaluation and customized treatment options today. We’re here to help!
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Otosclerosis. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/otosclerosis. Accessed May 29, 2019.