What is Otosclerosis?
One of the most common causes of progressive hearing loss in young adults is otosclerosis , a condition that can begin anytime between the ages of 10 and 45 for both men and women. Even though many doctors believe that otosclerosis is an inherited condition, isolated cases do occur. While the cause of otosclerosis is still not fully understood, when left untreated, a person’s loss of hearing can worsen progressively until complete deafness occurs.
Believed to be the disease that robbed the famous composer, Ludwig van Beethoven of his hearing, otosclerosis is a disease that affects the bones of the middle and inner ear . The three small bones of the inner ear (the stapes, incus, and malleus) become fused together due to abnormal bone growth, losing their flexibility and hindering their ability to transmit sound. Unfortunately, when any part of the hearing process becomes compromised a person’s ability to hear becomes impaired. While this disease often starts early, there are other signs and symptoms associated with the disease besides gradual hearing loss. Other symptoms of this disorder can include:
· Balance Problems
It is important to note that the symptoms of otosclerosis are also the same as other medical conditions, so it is vital that you are examined by an ear, nose and throat doctor as soon as possible. This is important because hearing loss associated with otosclerosis happens gradually. Typically starting with the inability to hear people whispering or low-pitched sounds, and this usually gets worse over time. The treatment methods for otosclerosis do vary between mild and severe cases. For those who have a mild case of otosclerosis, the doctor may at first take the watch-and-wait approach, or recommend a hearing aid. However, for those who suffer from severe otosclerosis, their doctor may recommend a surgery called a stapedectomy . With this procedure, a device is placed in your middle ear so the stapes bone can once again move freely, allowing sound waves to travel to your inner ear.
Luckily this surgery has a high success rate, with the procedure only taking around an hour or two to complete. If you live in the NY metropolitan area and would like to see if you are a candidate for stapedectomy surgery, or just have questions regarding otosclerosis, contact Dr. Sperling today!