Otosclerosis

What is Otosclerosis?

Otosclerosis is a common cause of hearing loss amongst young adults where there is abnormal bone growth within the ear.

There are three tiny bones deep within the ear that vibrate when sound waves enter, they then pass on the sound waves to the inner ear (cochlea), which then translates them into signals that are transmitted to the brain.

When Otosclerosis occurs, the stapes (known as the ‘stirrup’ bone) starts to combine with the adjoining bones in the ear and eventually becomes rigid and unable to move, which in turn means that sound waves can no longer be easily transmitted into the inner ear

How do I know if I have a problem?

The symptoms of Otosclerosis are:

  • Hearing a reoccurring buzzing or humming sound
  • Hearing loss that steadily gets worse
  • Difficulty hearing whispers and low sounds
  • Reducing the volume in which you speak as your voice appears loud to yourself
  • Can hear more clearly when there is background noise present (this distinguishes the condition from other cause of hearing loss)
  • Dizziness (although this is less common)

What are the treatments?

Make an appointment to see your GP if you have concerns about your hearing. The doctor will usually want a more detailed insight about your symptoms, examine your ears, and conduct simple hearing tests as well as asking about your medical history. If your doctor thinks that Otosclerosis is the cause, you will be referred to a hearing specialist or an ear, nose and throat consultant where they can carry out a more thorough examination of your ears.