The abnormal growth or remodelling of the bone in the middle ear and thereby disrupting the ability of sound travel is called otosclerosis.
The most common symptoms are -
- Gradual hearing loss which usually starts in one ear and then moves to the other
- Inability to hear low-pitched sounds like a whisper
- Complaints of dizziness, balance problems, or tinnitus which is a ringing, roaring, buzzing, or hissing sound in the ears or head ,that happens due to hearing loss
The risk factors are the following -
- Caucasians, especially middle-aged women are more prone to Otosclerosis than Asians, Africans, South Americans or African Americans
- Pregnant women for unknown reasons can experience rapid hearing loss
- Genetic predisposition - if one family member has otosclerosis, there are 25 percent chances of developing the condition and the risk goes up to 50 percent if both parents have otosclerosis
An Ear-Nose-Throat Specialist along with an Otologist (someone who specialises in ear diseases and infections) and an audiologist (someone who specialises in identifying, measuring and treating hearing disorders) will diagnose Otosclerosis in the following way -
- To rule out through diagnosis, any other disease or infection other than otoslerosis
- Hearing tests like audiogram to measure hearing sensitivity and tympanogram to check middle-ear sound conduction
- Imaging tests like CT scan
At present there is no effective drug treatment for otosclerosis except hoping for some advanced research in continued bone evolving and remodeling to identify new therapies. Doctors may recommend a hearing aid but stapedectomy surgery is usually the preferred option where a surgeon inserts a prosthetic device into the middle ear to bypass the abnormal bone and permit sound waves to travel to the inner ear and restore hearing.