Slow formation of abnormal, spongy bone growth in the middle ear. The growth prevents one of the small bones in the middle ear from transmitting sound waves. This can lead to hearing loss. Otosclerosis usually affects both ears. It occurs in all ages and both sexes, but is more common in females from ages 15 to 30.
frequent signs and symptoms
Slow, continuing hearing loss. Early on, the disease is called otospongiosis.
Ringing or other types of noises in the ears (tinnitus).
Dizziness or imbalance if the vestibular portion of the ear is affected.
Appears to be an inherited disease. Sixty percent of those affected have a positive family history of the disorder. In other cases, the cause is unknown. A viral infection may be a factor.
risk increases with
Family history of hearing loss.
Otosclerosis affects to some degree about 10% of all white persons.
Pregnancy, which may trigger the onset.
Osteogenesis imperfecta (a bone disease of the ear).
Cannot be prevented at present. Obtain genetic counseling before starting a family if you or your spouse has otosclerosis.
Surgical treatment can help restore or improve hearing in most patients. In patients not needing or unable to have surgery, hearing aids can be of benefit.
Without surgery, some degree of hearing loss may continue for years. Total deafness is a rare complication.
Hearing loss can cause problems with work, social events, and family relationships. Emotional distress may occur.
diagnosis & treatment
Your health care provider will do a physical exam of the ears and ask questions about your symptoms and family history of hearing problems. Diagnosis is based on hearing tests such as an audiogram and Rinne test (study of bone conduction). A CT (an imaging study) scan of the head may be done to rule out other disorders.
Treatment will depend on the degree of hearing loss. It may involve surgery and/or hearing aids, and, sometimes, fluoride supplements.
If the hearing loss is minor, no treatment is usually needed. Hearing tests will be given periodically to see if hearing loss is progressing.
Treatment usually involves surgery (stapedectomy) to remove a part or all of the stapes (a bone in the middle ear) and replace it with prosthesis (artificial substitute). The hearing is improved in almost all cases.
Hearing aids will benefit many patients. Different types are available. A hearing specialist can help you choose what will work best for your individual needs.
A bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) may be recommended. It is an implantable hearing aid that takes minor surgery to put in place.
To learn more: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 10801 Rockville Pike Rd., Rockville, MD 20852; (800) 638-8255; website: www.asha.org.
Antibiotics may be prescribed after surgery.
Sodium fluoride may be prescribed to prevent further hearing loss by hardening the spongy bone. It won't, however, improve hearing.
After surgery, resume your normal activities gradually.
No special diet.
notify our office if
You or a family member has symptoms of otosclerosis.