Otosclerosis is a disease of the ear in which abnormal growth of bone interferes with movement of the stapes bone, leading to a progressive loss of hearing.
Otosclerosis is one of the most common types of acquired hearing loss, affecting about 15 million people in the United States alone. It’s most common among whites, and some estimate that 10% of the adult Caucasian population is affected by otosclerosis. It’s less common among people of Japanese and South American descent and is rare in African Americans. It’s also twice as common among women than men. This is thought to be because of hormonal influences on the disease. Pregnant women with otosclerosis sometimes experience a rapid drop in hearing.
Gradual hearing loss is the most common symptom of otosclerosis. Typically, hearing loss develops over many months or years and slowly gets worse. It usually affects both ears. The hearing loss might start at different times in each ear and they can have different degrees of hearing loss. The first signs of otosclerosis can begin anytime between the ages of 15 and 45, but it usually starts in the early 20’s. Even if you don’t notice hearing loss until your 40’s, this is long before the signs of typical “old-age” hearing loss begin. If you have otosclerosis, you might not begin to notice that you have a hearing loss until it reaches 25-30 dB on the audiogram. Difficulty understanding speech during a conversation may be the first sign that you have hearing loss.
At House Clinic, all treatment options are offered for otosclerosis, from surgical correction to simply observe and monitor your hearing loss; treat your otosclerosis medically; or wear a hearing aid. The surgical procedure performed to correct otosclerosis is called a stapedectomy, which is an elective and outpatient procedure. You can return to work in seven to ten days depending upon your work requirements. Your doctor may ask you to refrain from nose blowing, swimming, or other activities that can get water in the operated ear until about two weeks after the surgery.