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Otosclerosis

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One of the common causes of deafness in people in the age group of 20 to 30s is otosclerosis. It develops gradually and its incidence seems to run in families. The following information shared will help you understand more about otosclerosis.

About Otosclerosis

The human ear is made up of three parts: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. There are three tiny bones inside the middle ear called as ossicles. These ossicles move forward and backward when any sound wave hits the ear drum. This helps in the transmission of the sound waves into the cochlea of the inner ear, which in turn converts the sound waves into signals for the brain.

Otosclerosis causes one of the inner three tiny bones, the stapes, to start fusing with the bone next to it. Soon, it becomes fixed at one point and stops moving. When the tiny bones stop moving, it cannot help send the sounds into the inner ear. Thus, it leads to progressive deafness. This condition is thus called as conductive hearing loss, as the problem lies in the middle ear.

Otosclerosis is quite common in women and young adults in their 20s and 30s.

Symptoms

Hearing loss is the most common symptom of otosclerosis. People will notice they cannot hear low pitch sounds or whispers initially. Soon, they will experience tinnitus, balance problems, etc. Dizziness is a rare symptom of otosclerosis.

Causes

The exact manifestation of the disease is still under debate. It is thought of as a hereditary condition as it runs in families. A family history of otosclerosis increases ones chances of developing it themselves, manifold. Pregnant women develop otosclerosis due to the hormonal changes. However, the exact relationship between pregnancy and otosclerosis in women is still unknown. Some even suggest a viral infection such as measles leading to otosclerosis.

Diagnosis

The surgeon may examine the ear and take your medical history. He/she may conduct many tests at an audiology clinic such as:

  • Pure tone audiogram
  • Speech audiometry
  • Tuning fork
  • CT scan to observe the affected area in the ear
  • Use of tympanometer to conduct the stapedial reflex test

Treatment

There are two treatment options for otosclerosis. These include use of hearing aids that are helpful during the initial stages of the disease. However, in order to treat the condition completely, surgery is required. There are two types of surgeries for otosclerosis, that is, stepedectomy and stapedotomy. The doctor will suggest either of the surgeries depending on the severity and the requirement of your condition.

Risk of Surgery

With any surgery, there is often a margin for risk. Some of the complications related to surgery of otosclerosis include:

  • Loss of hearing, that is, further impairment of hearing
  • Dizziness
  • Taste disturbance
  • Reaction to the ear dressings
  • Worsening of tinnitus

Otosclerosis leads to hearing loss in one ear or can progress to both ears. If you have a family history of otosclerosis, make sure you get your hearing checked, if you observe any of the symptoms related to this condition.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 07, 2015