Otosclerosis is a type of otic or ear disorder which is characterized by the growth of irregular spongy bone or foci and abnormality in the metabolism of calcium in the bony labyrinth of the middle ear.
Also termed as otospongiosis, this condition affects one of the ear ossicles particularly the stapes, which is the third bone of the ear ossicles and is directly connected to the inner ear. Due to the abnormality, the stapes becomes fixed and stops vibrating, which interrupts the sound waves travelling inside the ears and causes progressive loss of hearing.
In the case of otosclerosis, the initial hearing loss is due to conductive hearing loss, where sound waves strike the eardrum but fail to reach the inner ear, thus causing hearing damage or partial loss of hearing. This may start in one ear but eventually, both the ears get affected. At the later stage of this ailment, the patient may suffer from complete hearing loss which is termed as Sensorineural hearing loss.
This otic disorder is usually hereditary but can also occur due to environmental factors i.e. by contracting some kind of infections like measles or due to fractures caused by stress in the bony tissue inside the inner ear.
Few common symptoms characterized by people suffering from Otosclerosis are:
- Partial hearing loss gradually from one ear to another
- Balancing problems or Dizziness as in vertigo
- Ringing sensation in the ears as in tinnitus
- Inability to hear whispers
- Buzzing, hissing sound in the ear
Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis of the disorder is generally done by an ENT specialist or an Otolaryngologist by closely examining the ear, knowing about the past medical history and family history of any ear-related illness or ear infections followed by some tests which include:
Imaging techniques like CT- Scan or X-rays at different angles of the inner ear
Hearing tests like audiometry to measure hearing sensitivity, tympanometry to check middle-ear sound conduction and acoustic reflex testing to determine the contraction of the stapedius muscles.
A mild condition of otosclerosis can be treated by suggesting wearing hearing aids or the doctor may recommend some dietary mineral and vitamin supplements.
For a more severe version of this disorder, the doctor may recommend surgical options like stapedectomy where the abnormal or irregular stapes are removed or straightened out so that the sound waves get a free path to reach the inner ear and thereby enhance better hearing.