Middle Ear

Otosclerosis

What is it?

Otosclerosis is a condition where abnormal bone forms around the stapes footplate. The stapes is the smallest of our three hearing bones which transfer sound waves from the eardrum into the cochlea – our hearing organ.  The extra bone restricts movement leading to a progressive hearing loss.

What causes it?

The cause is unknown. Two thirds of cases occur in women. About half of patients have another affected family member.

How does it affect people?

  • hearing is slowly lost as the bone forms
  • at first you may notice difficulty hearing low sounds or people whispering
  • usually both ears are affected, sometimes only one
  • some women can experience worsening otosclerosis during a pregnancy
  • a number of patients have the unusual symptom of hyperacusis – an extreme sensitivity to sound
  • tinnitus may be experienced
  • occasionally imbalance and vertigo can occur
  • autophony – when your own voice sounds loud and as if ‘in a barrel’ – may be experienced with the conductive hearing loss

What can be done?

  • a hearing test is recommended for anyone experiencing any difficulty hearing
  • an audiologist can perform a full hearing assessment
  • an ENT Surgeon is able to advise on what may be surgically possible to restore hearing
  • the use of a hearing aid may also be an option

 

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