Otosclerosis is a condition affecting more than three million Americans wherein abnormal bone remodeling causes hearing disruption. Bone remodeling is a recurring lifelong process during which old bone tissue is replaced with new.
Otosclerosis occurs when the new bone tissue grows abnormally and blocks or disrupts the path of sound through your ear canal.
What Are the Symptoms of Otosclerosis?
The most common symptom of otosclerosis is gradual hearing loss. People with otosclerosis may begin to notice that whispering or low-pitched sounds are hard to hear. Other symptoms may include:
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Balance issues
- Speaking quietly because your voice sounds loud to you
To determine if you have otosclerosis, your ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist will use your symptoms to rule out other health conditions and conduct hearing tests to assess the level of hearing loss.
If otosclerosis is suspected, they may request a computed tomography (CT) scan to see the bones and tissues of the ear in better detail.
How Does Sound Travel?
Sound travels from its outside source to the auditory center of the brain in the following steps:
- After sound waves enter the outer ear, they travel through the ear canal to the eardrum.
- The sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate.
- The vibrations travel to the stapes, malleus and incus in the middle ear.
- The middle ear bones amplify the sound and send it to the cochlea.
- The sound vibrations send ripples in the cochlea fluid that cause tiny hair cells to move.
- The hair cells send electrical signals to the auditory nerve, resulting in sound.
Hearing becomes disrupted when abnormal bone remodeling blocks or affects the normal pathway of sound through the ear.
How Can You Manage Hearing Loss?
Two common treatment options for otosclerosis include:
- Hearing aids. Although hearing aids cannot prevent otosclerosis from progressing, they can help you hear better. The small but technologically advanced devices amplify, collect and amplify sound based on your specific needs. With hearing aids, ordering your favorite fall latte at James Coffee Co. can feel much easier.
- Stapedectomy. A stapedectomy involves placing a prosthesis in the middle ear to replace the stapes bone. The prosthesis will allow sound to travel through your ear to the auditory center.
For more information on treating your otosclerosis, contact San Diego ENT today to make an appointment with one of our specialists.