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Understanding Otosclerosis

Cross section of ear showing outer, inner, and middle ear structures with damaged stapes.Otosclerosis is a disease of the bones in the ear. The bones slowly become spongelike (otospongiosis). As this happens, the middle ear bone called the stapes becomes stuck in place. The bone cannot move correctly in response to sound. This affects hearing. It most often develops when a person is between ages 20 and 40.

How to say it

oh-toh-skleh-ROH-sis

What causes otosclerosis?

The exact cause of otosclerosis is still being researched. The disease tends to run in families. In certain cases, it may be related to having had a measles infection. It may also occur along with certain autoimmune disorders. These are diseases in which the body attacks its own tissues.

In certain cases, the condition gets worse during pregnancy.

Symptoms of otosclerosis

The main symptom of otosclerosis is hearing loss that slowly gets worse. You may lose hearing in one or both ears. You may also have roaring, buzzing, or ringing sounds in the ear (tinnitus). In some cases, you may have dizziness or problems with balance.

Treatment for otosclerosis

Otosclerosis may be mild to severe. It may stop getting worse on its own or keep progressing. Treatment will depend on what type of hearing loss you have and how bad it is. The main treatments are:

  • Hearing aids. You wear these on or in the ear to help restore hearing.

  • Surgery. This is done to remove the stapes bone and replace it with an artificial bone. The procedure can help restore some hearing.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if:

  • Your symptoms quickly get worse

  • You have any new symptoms

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