What is Otosclerosis – and could I have it?
Otosclerosis is a disorder that affects the bones of the inner ear in about 0.3% of the population. Effects of this condition usually begin to cause hearing loss between the ages of 10-30, but this is not a hard and fast window, it can occur beyond this spectrum.
If one or both of your parents suffers from it, you are up to 50% more likely to suffer from it.
What causes it? And is there anything you can do about it?
In a nutshell, otosclerosis is when the stapes bone in your ear has a growth on it that prevents it from moving freely. This bones needs to move freely in order for sound to be processed properly.
In your ear there are three bones – often referred to as the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup. The stapes is the that last one – the stirrup.
The stapes is essentially the last bone in the chain of bones that react when a sound enters your ear, allowing you to hear it.
Because it’s not allowed to move, as it should, you are basically only get the sound from the anvil – and it isn’t as loud as it would be if the stirrup were moving properly. Technically, this is a form of conductive hearing loss.
What symptoms other than hearing loss can you expect?
Good question. Hearing loss is not the only symptom.
Other symptoms of the disorder can include dizziness, balance problems, or a sensation of ringing, roaring, buzzing, or hissing in the ears or head known as tinnitus.
Can anything be done about it?
The short answer is, maybe. The following options are ways you can address the hearing loss you are experiencing.
Visit your audiologist for an assessment. They can help you determine if a hearing aid could help your unique situation.
Supplements. There is one study that shows that individuals who take Sodium Fluoride do sometimes see improvement. It is believed to work best on people who have a faster progression of symptoms, and appears to inhibit the growth of the disorder.
After an evaluation by an Ear/Nose/Throat surgeon, it may be determined that surgery is your best option.
If this is the case, typically, the surgeon would replace the stapes bone with a prosthetic. In many cases, this solves the problem. It is a very delicate surgery and risks can include complete deafness.
If you are concerned about your own hearing loss, and you know a family member has suffered from Otosclerosis, we can discuss your options and next steps.
Give us a call. Make an appointment. Change your life.