Ear, Nose and Throat
Elizabeth A. Kelly, M.D.
March 10, 2020
Otosclerosis is a process that occurs in the middle ear that leads to hearing loss. So normally when sound comes into the ear it hits the eardrum, and then it will cause the little bones to vibrate and then that sends a sound signal through the inner ear. In otosclerosis there's a change in how those little bones are able to move and usually the third little bone, the stapes bone is fixed and so that sound signal doesn't get transmitted through the inner ear as well and so patients have a hearing loss related to that
Otosclerosis commonly affects patients that are around 30 to 50 years of age or that's usually when it presents. More common in women than men but it can affect children and present in older adults too. Most patients will have hearing loss. Some patients with otosclerosis will have ringing in their ear or buzzing but usually have a normal ear exam, don't have lots of history of ear infections. To diagnose otosclerosis we usually have patients get a hearing test to confirm they have a certain type of pattern of their hearing loss, and then we also examine their ears and they usually have a normal ear exam and then to really confirm the diagnosis it would be to go into surgery and see that that bone is not moving adequately.
There's a couple different ways that we treat patients with otosclerosis. One is we can observe them. If the hearing loss is not significantly impacting their day-to-day activities and we can follow them with serial audiograms. Other things that we can do is we can try a hearing aid and so they can see audiologist to get fit for a hearing aid and then we can also offer a surgery to replace one of those, that little bone that's not moving adequately with a prosthesis.
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