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Otosclerosis is the abnormal growth of bone of the middle ear. Otosclerosis usually affects the stapes. The stapes rests in the entrance to the inner ear. When otosclerosis affects the stapes, the stapes becomes fixed into the oval window and interferes with sound passing waves to the inner ear.
Alternative Names of Otosclerosis are: Otospongiosis.
Complications of Otosclerosis
Causes of Otosclerosis
Signs & Symptoms of Otosclerosis
Diagnosis of Otosclerosis
Your GP will ask about your symptoms and examine you. He or she may also ask you about your medical history and carry out some initial basic tests to assess your hearing.
If your GP thinks you have signs of hearing loss, he or she will refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon at your local hospital. You will need to have the following tests before your doctor can diagnose otosclerosis.
You may also have the following tests.
Treatments of Otosclerosis
Having a hearing aid fitted or having surgery are the two treatment options for otosclerosis, which can help to improve hearing. Your ENT surgeon will discuss both options with you. Which treatment you have will depend on how severe your symptoms are and your own individual circumstances. If your hearing loss is mild, you may decide that you can manage without any treatment at all.
Having a hearing aid may be enough if you have only a slight hearing loss. A hearing aid is a small electronic device that fits in or behind your ear, and works by making sound loud enough for you to hear.
If you decide to have a hearing aid, you will see an audiologist - a health professional specializing in helping people who have problems with their hearing. Your audiologist will discuss the different types of hearing aid available with you, and advise which the best one for you is. Newer types of hearing aid can transmit sound waves straight through the bone in your skull, and may be particularly useful in people with otosclerosis.
You will probably only be advised to have surgery if your hearing loss has reached a certain level and you are having trouble understanding other people speaking, even with a hearing aid. Surgery for otosclerosis is often able to improve your hearing, but carries a risk of complications - such as losing more, or all of your hearing. Your surgeon will discuss the benefits, potential risks and possible alternatives to the procedure with you before you have the operation. You will also have a chance to ask any questions you have about the procedure. The operation may be done under general or local anaesthesia. If you have a general anaesthetic, you will be asleep during the procedure. If you have a local anaesthetic, you will stay awake during the procedure but feeling from your ear will be blocked. During the surgery (called a stapedotomy), a small cut will be made just above the opening to your ear, or inside your ear canal. Your surgeon will then make a small opening in the footplate of the stapes bone with tiny instruments, or sometimes with a laser. Sometimes your surgeon may completely remove the stapes bone. An artificial piece of bone, made out of plastic or metal (called prosthesis) is then inserted into your ear and connected to the other two ossicles. The procedure allows the three ossicle bones to move freely again, so that sound can be transmitted to your inner ear.
Prevention of Otosclerosis
There seems to have been a decline in otosclerosis with fluoridation of municipal water systems. If an individual with a positive family history does not have access to fluoridated water, then fluoride tablets are beneficial.
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