Otosclerosis is a disease in the ear that is a form of abnormal bone growth in the middle and inner ear. The tiny bones are supposed to amplify sound waves, but the disease prevents them from receiving the right vibrations. Hearing loss and sense of balance are the most severe symptoms caused by otosclerosis. On average, 60 percent of otosclerosis cases are genetic. There is a 25 percent chance of a child inheriting the disease if one parent has it. Symptoms can happen anywhere from the ages of 15 to 45, but generally begin in the early 20s.

Individuals with otosclerosis notice the inability to hear low-pitched sounds and whispers, experience dizziness, ringing (tinnitus), buzzing or hissing sounds in the ears.

The actual cause of otosclerosis is undetermined, but most doctors and researches believe it is inherited. Other causes can include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Gender (Women tend to develop it more, during pregnancy)
  • Race (Caucasians are most susceptible)
  • Family history (It is hereditary, if both parents have the disease, there is 50 percent chance the child will inherit otosclerosis)
  • Chronic measles virus (it is not confirmed, but studies have shown it can lead to the disease)
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta (a genetic disorder identified by brittle bones)
  • Unknown factors

Treatment of otosclerosis can happen in a variety of ways. If the symptoms are not too severe, a simple yearly check-up will be suffice. If the disease is more severe, hearing aids can be worn, which will help amplify your hearing.

Medical treatment can be pursued. Sodium fluoride, a dietary supplement, vitamin D or calcium can be taken. It has been said these can help slow the progression of the disease.

In 1957, Dr. John Shea invented the procedure stapedectomy. The outpatient procedure is done under anesthesia. The doctor enters the ear, removes the immobilized stapes bone and replaces it with a prosthetic device. The device then resumes proper duties of stimulation and improves, or restores, hearing abilities. Stapedectomy has a 90 percent success rate, in which patients regain hearing abilities. For serious hearing loss, surgical treatment may be the best option.

If you or someone you know is experiencing hearing loss, give us a call at 901-415-6667 and the licensed professionals of the Shea Hearing Aid Center will gladly arrange for you to have a FREE hearing evaluation.