What is otosclerosis?

Otosclerosis is a condition that affects the ear. “Oto” means ear. “Sclerosis” means abnormal hardening of body tissue. Normally, bone is in a cycle of being continuously made and broken down. In otosclerosis, this process of making and breaking down bone is not done properly. When this happens, the bones in the middle ear get stuck in position and can’t vibrate when sound is coming through the middle ear. This prevents sound from travelling properly through the ear, and therefore impacts the person’s hearing.

Hearing loss is the most frequently reported symptom of otosclerosis. It usually starts in one ear and then moves to the other ear. This loss may appear gradually. Many people with otosclerosis notice they have trouble hearing low-pitched sounds or can’t hear a whisper. Some people may also experience dizziness, balance problems, or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

While otosclerosis is seen to run in families, there has not been a gene definitively identified to cause it; although, there have been associations made with many genes.

To learn more about how we normally hear, click here.

Otosclerosis. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. (http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/otosclerosis.aspx)

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