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The Inner Ear  
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Definition  

Otosclerosis occurs when abnormal new bone forms in the inner ear. This growth prevents proper functioning of other ear structures. This condition is a common cause of hearing loss.

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Causes  

The cause of otosclerosis is still unknown, but genetics appears to play a role.

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Risk Factors  

Otosclerosis is more common in Caucasians, Asians, females, and in people in their teens through late 40s. Other factors that increase chance of otosclerosis include:

  • Family history of otosclerosis
  • Drinking nonfluoridated water—some studies suggest that nonfluoridated water may cause a susceptible person to develop otosclerosis
  • Hormonal factors, such as pregnancy
  • Viral infections, including measles
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Symptoms  

Gradual hearing loss is the main symptom of otosclerosis. Hearing loss may be of two types:

  • Conductive—involving the small bones of the inner ear
  • Sensorineural—involving the cochlea, which is the sensory organ in the inner ear

Early in the disease, you may first notice trouble hearing low-pitched sounds or whispers. Other symptoms may include:

  • A sensation of spinning
  • Balance problems
  • A sensation of ringing, roaring, or buzzing in the ear
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Diagnosis  

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your ears may be tested. This can be done with a hearing test.

Images may be taken of your ear. This can be done with:

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Treatment  

Treatments may include:

Hearing Aid  

Hearing aids may be effective for conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

Surgery  

In many cases, a procedure called a stapedectomy may improve hearing. The purpose of this operation is to replace the diseased bone with an artificial device that can transmit sound waves to the inner ear. Stapedectomy is effective and frequently returns hearing to a near normal level.

Oral Treatment  

Fluoride tablets are sometimes prescribed to stabilize the condition and prevent further sensorineural hearing loss. However, this treatment remains controversial and unproven.

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Prevention  

Prevention methods include:

  • Drinking fluoridated water
  • Getting the measles vaccination