What is otosclerosis?
Otosclerosis is the abnormal development of the middle ear bone. This bone prevents constructions within the ear from working properly and causes hearing loss. For some people with otosclerosis, hearing loss can become severe.
How do we listen?
Hearing is a sequence of events in which the ear converts sound waves into electrical signals and causes nerve impulses to be sent to the brain, where they are interpreted as sound. The ear has three key parts: the outer, middle, and inner ear. Sound waves enter the outer ear and reach the middle ear, where they vibrate the eardrum.
The vibrations are transmitted through three tiny bones in the middle ear called ossicles. These three bones are called the hammer, anvil, and stirrup (and are also known as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup). The eardrum and ossicles carry the vibrations to the inner ear. The stapes transmit the vibrations through the oval window and into the fluid that fills the inner ear.
The vibrations move through fluid in the snail-shaped auditory part of the inner ear (cochlea) that contains hair cells. The fluid in the cochlea moves the upper part of the hair cells, which initiates the changes that lead to the production of nerve impulses. These nerve instincts are carried to the brain, where they are interpreted as sound. Different sounds stimulate different parts of the inner ear, allowing the brain to distinguish between various sounds, for example, different vowel and consonant sounds.
Hearing loss, the most commonly reported symptom of otosclerosis, usually begins in one ear and then progresses to the other. This loss can appear very gradually. Many people with otosclerosis first notice that they are unable to hear bass sounds or cannot hear a whisper. Approximately people may also experience dizziness, balance problems, or tinnitus. Tinnitus is a ringing, roaring, buzzing, or hiss in the ears or head that sometimes occurs with hearing loss.
The exact cause of otosclerosis is unknown. It can be approved down from parent to child. People who have otosclerosis have an abnormal extension of cancellous bone that grows in the middle ear socket. This development prevents the bones of the ear from vibrating in response to sound waves.
These vibrations are necessary for you to hear. Otosclerosis is the most common cause of mid-ear hearing loss in young adults. It usually begins in early or middle adulthood. It is more shared in women than in men. The condition can affect one or both ears.
Risks for this condition comprise pregnancy and a family history of hearing loss. White people are more probable to develop this condition than people of other races.
Experts are not sure what exactly causes it. But they do know that these risk factors can increase your chances of getting it:
- Age: Usually starts when you are young. You can grow otosclerosis between the ages of 10 and 45, but you are more likely to develop it in your 20s. Symptoms are usually worse in their 30s.
- Genetics: It is often hereditary. About half of all people with otosclerosis have a gene related to the disorder. But even if you have the gene, you won’t necessarily have it.
- Both men and women get otosclerosis. Women, however, are at higher risk. Experts aren’t sure why, but if you’re a female and develop otosclerosis during pregnancy, you’re possible to lose hearing faster than if you were a man or not pregnant.
- Race and ethnicity: Caucasians are more likely to get it. About 10% develop otosclerosis. It is less common in other groups and rare in African Americans.
- Medical history: Certain medical problems can increase your chances of getting otosclerosis. For example, if you had measles at some point, your risk may increase. Stress fractures of the bone tissue around the inner ear can also increase the likelihood of it occurring. And immune disorders, in which your immune system mistakenly attacks parts of your body, can also be linked to the condition.
If you are concerned about hearing loss, make an appointment with your doctor. They will ask about the symptoms you have been having and then usually look at your ears with an auriscope. This is the common instrument used to look into your ears if you have an earache. In otosclerosis, your eardrum usually looks normal and healthy when your doctor looks into your ear.
Your doctor can refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist who can diagnose otosclerosis. They will do hearing tests that will show a specific pattern of hearing loss in otosclerosis. The professional may also use a small device that is placed in your ear, called tympanometry. This can help them observe the movement of the bones inside your ear. In otosclerosis, the stapes (stapes) will move less. This test is very rapid and does not cause any pain.
Sometimes the specialist may decide that you need a CT scan that will give them more information about the severity of otosclerosis.
Currently, there is no effective drug treatment for otosclerosis, although there is hope that continued research on bone remodeling can identify potential new therapies. Mild otosclerosis can be preserved with a hearing aid that amplifies sound, but surgery is often required. In a procedure known as a stapedotomy, a surgeon inserts a prosthesis into the middle ear to bypass abnormal bone and allow sound waves to travel to the inner ear and restore hearing.
It is important to discuss any surgical procedure with an ear specialist to clarify the possible risks and limitations of the operation. For example, some hearing loss can persist after stapedotomy, and in rare cases, surgery can make hearing loss worse.
Complications can include complete deafness. Weird taste in the mouth or loss of taste in part of the tongue, temporary or permanent. Infection, dizziness, pain, or a blood clot in the ear after surgery.
It is not possible to prevent otosclerosis, so its early detection is essential to be able to provide the necessary treatment and avoid hearing loss.