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Otosclerosis 

Introduction
Otosclerosis is a progressive condition that causes hearing reduction and can progress to deafness.  It results from abnormal bone growth in the ear that interferes with the hearing process.  Otosclerosis is an inherited disorder.  Surgery is used to improve hearing and can sometimes cure the condition.

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Anatomy
The ear is divided into three main areas: the outer, middle, and inner ear.  Your ear not only enables you to hear, but it plays a role in balance as well.  Your outer and middle ear are separated by your eardrum.

The medical term for eardrum is tympanic membrane.  Located just behind your eardrum is your middle ear.  The ossicles, tiny bones, are located in your middle ear.  There are three ossicles in each ear, the hammer (malleus), anvil  (incus), and stirrup  (stapes).  Sound waves cause the ossicles and eardrum to vibrate.  The vibrations create nerve messages that travel to the brain and are interpreted as sound.

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Causes
Otosclerosis results from an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear.  Otosclerosis is an inherited condition, meaning that is passed down through families.  The abnormal bone growth surrounds the stirrup bone and prevents it from vibrating, resulting in hearing loss.

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Symptoms
Otosclerosis usually affects both ears.  Hearing loss is a main symptom.  Hearing loss occurs slowly and gets worse over time.  You may experience tinnitus, such as ringing or buzzing sounds.

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Diagnosis
A doctor can begin to diagnose otosclerosis by reviewing your medical history and conducting some tests.  You may be referred to an audiologist.  Computed tomography (CT) scans are used to see if the ears contain abnormal bone growths.  Hearing tests are used to determine the type and extent of hearing loss.

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Treatment
Otosclerosis tends to get worse over time.  You may not need treatment until your hearing loss is severe.  A hearing aid may help you hear better, but it will not stop or cure the condition.  Surgery is used to restore as much hearing as possible and may cure the condition.

Surgery involves removing the stirrup and freeing the anvil and hammer of any abnormal bone growth.  The stirrup is replaced with a prosthesis, an artificial stirrup made of stainless steel, in a procedure called a stapedectomy.  Another type of surgery, a stapedotomy, uses a laser to create a hole in the stirrup, which is followed by placement of the prosthesis.

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Am I at Risk
If members of your family have otosclerosis, you have an increased risk of developing the condition.  Otosclerosis most frequently develops in Caucasian women between the ages of 15 and 30 years old.  Pregnancy or the measles can trigger the onset of otosclerosis.

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Complications
Otosclerosis is a progressive condition, meaning that it gets worse over time.  Untreated otosclerosis can lead to complete hearing loss in both ears.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.