When the middle ear bone grows abnormally, it creates a medical condition called otosclerosis. This condition allows sounds to be absorbed by the eardrum, but due to a broken ossicular chain in the middle ear, they cannot reach the cochlea. It typically starts by affecting one ear and then gradually moving on to the other ear. In many cases, it is the low-frequency sounds that are troublesome, but eventually if also includes high frequency sounds, too.
The Cause of Otosclerosis
Though the condition is thought to be hereditary, but it is also believed that viruses can contribute to its development. According to statistics, about 10 percent of Caucasian males and 18 percent of Caucasian females have this condition. However, anyone can get it. Of those affected by otosclerosis, 10 percent will develop hearing loss. About 2 percent of women and 1 percent of men will have a significant hearing loss with this medical issue.
The hearing impairment is permanent. Pregnancy hormones cause the disease to progress more quickly. Though Caucasians have a more significant chance of getting this condition, about 1 percent of African Americans will suffer as well. It is rare to find Native Americans or Oriental people with this hearing problem.
Making a Diagnosis
To make a diagnosis of otosclerosis, a physical examination is given. The doctor may perform some tests to rule out other conditions that can also affect hearing. Theists often use in diagnostics is an audiogram, CT scan, tympanogram, and an MRI. An x-ray of the temporal bone is often used to help make a definitive diagnosis. This can also help to rule out other common causes of hearing loss too. Hearing loss can be caused by infections, ear wax build-up, and other benign conditions.
There are three choices when it comes to the treatment of otosclerosis. First, a patient can do nothing. Since this is not a fatal condition, the hearing loss may not be bothersome. Keep in mind that the disease is progressive, and as time goes on the hearing loss will get worse.
Another option is to use a hearing aid. A hearing aid is a viable option for many people. It depends on the nature of the hearing loss and the patient’s medical conditions. Some cases may not be helped with a hearing aid, while others can hear well with these devices.
The last option is a stapedectomy. This is a surgical procedure that removes the third hearing bone and replaces it with a prosthetic. A laser is used to connect the second and third bones to the inner ear. This process is around 95 percent successful. The procedure takes less than an hour to complete. The major concern with this surgical option is that it can cause permanent hearing loss or constant dizziness as the inner ear is being manipulated. However, only about 1 percent of surgical patients report any issues.
Prompt Medical Attention is Imperative
Any hearing loss needs to be evaluated through a comprehensive evaluation. Since most hearing conditions are degenerative, it is important to get medical help at the first sign of trouble.