What You Should Know About Otosclerosis

There are many health conditions that can affect the ears. One such little-known condition is otosclerosis. Get to know some of the important facts about otosclerosis and the treatment options available for the condition. Then, if you start to have ear problems, you can contact an ear, nose, and throat specialist to help you determine if otosclerosis is the culprit. 

What Is Otosclerosis?

Otosclerosis is a condition that affects the middle ear and involves an unusual hardening of the bones that make up the inner ear. In a healthy or "normal" ear, the tiny bones in the middle ear vibrate when sound waves travel through the ear. These vibrations help to send signals to the inner ear, which in turn, sends signals to the brain so that sound can be heard and interpreted. Otosclerosis causes the bones to become hardened and stuck in place, preventing such vibrations. 

What Are Some Signs of Otosclerosis?

Otosclerosis often does not cause any significant pain or discomfort. Instead, the primary symptom is trouble hearing. Because the bones of the middle ear do not all harden or become stuck in place all at once, this hearing loss can occur over time and be confused with general signs of aging at first. Low frequency sounds are usually the first to be affected by otosclerosis. Eventually, it can become difficult to hear anything, and in severe cases, a person can lose all hearing in the affected ear or ears. 

In addition to hearing loss, a person with otosclerosis may experience vertigo (an extreme dizziness and visual disorientation) and tinnitus (a ringing or other sound disturbance in the ear). Both of these signs of otosclerosis can be caused by many other health issues or can occur entirely on their own. As such, diagnosing otosclerosis can often take a significant amount of time. 

How Do You Treat Otosclerosis?

When it comes down to treating otosclerosis, the options can be somewhat limited. There are no known medications that can safely and successfully reverse the bone hardening process in the middle ear. However, in people who have mild to moderate otosclerosis, wearing hearing aids can help a great deal. Hearing aids amplify the sound signals that enter the ear, making those middle ear bones more likely to vibrate and transmit the sound properly. 

If a person's case of otosclerosis is severe or hearing aids are not as effective as doctors would like, surgery can also be performed. This surgery removes one of the bones in the middle ear known as the stapes bone and replaces is with a prosthesis which will be able to move and vibrate as well as help the other bones in the middle ear function properly. 

Now that you know more about otosclerosis and how it is treated, you can schedule an appointment with a hearing doctor as soon as possible if you are showing any signs of the condition. For more information, contact a local clinic like Wakefield Hearing Center