Gradual hearing loss is the most frequent symptom of otosclerosis. Often, individuals with otosclerosis will first notice that they cannot hear low-pitched sounds or whispers. Other symptoms of the disorder can include dizziness, balance problems, or a sensation of ringing, roaring, buzzing, or hissing in the ears or head known as tinnitus.
Hearing loss (slow at first, but worsens over time)
Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Vertigo or dizziness
The exact cause of otosclerosis is unknown but approximately 60 percent of otosclerosis cases have a genetic predisposition. On average, a person who has one parent with otosclerosis has a 25 percent chance of developing the disorder. If both parents have otosclerosis, the risk goes up to 50 percent.
To help determine the severity of hearing loss, a hearing test (audiometry/audiology) is conducted
Because many of the symptoms typical of otosclerosis can be caused by other medical conditions, it is important to be examined by an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat doctor) to eliminate these other causes.
After an examination, a hearing test is usually conducted to help determine the severity of hearing loss. The typical finding on the hearing test is a conductive hearing loss in the low frequency tones. This means that the loss of hearing is due to an inability of the sound vibrations to get transferred into the inner ear. A special imaging test of the head called a temporal-bone CT may be used to look for other causes of hearing loss.
If the hearing loss is mild, hearing aids can be used to treat the hearing loss by amplifying the sound reaching the ear drum.
Cochlear implants are used successfully in patients with otosclerosis. Patients with the best preoperative hearing levels are most likely to benefit.
A stapedectomy is an outpatient surgical procedure done under local or general anesthesia in which the surgeon uses an operating microscope to remove part or all of the immobilized stapes bone and replaces it with a tiny synthetic prosthesic device. The prosthetic device allows the bones of the middle ear to resume movement, which stimulates fluid in the inner ear and improves or restores hearing.