An Overview of Myringosclerosis and Tympanosclerosis

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Myringosclerosis and tympanosclerosis are similar conditions that affect the middle ear, causing the tympanic membrane (eardrum) to appear bright white. The whiteness is due to accumulated calcium deposits.

The difference between myringosclerosis and tympanosclerosis is that in myringosclerosis, the calcium only deposits on the eardrum, and in tympanosclerosis, calcium deposits appear on the eardrum and the middle ear structures.

This article explains the symptoms, causes, and treatment of myringosclerosis and tympanosclerosis.

A woman with pain in her ear
IAN HOOTON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

Symptoms of Myringosclerosis and Tympanosclerosis

Myringosclerosis usually does not cause any symptoms, but it can sometimes be associated with a very mild conductive hearing loss. Hearing loss is more common with tympanosclerosis.

Depending on the situation, hearing loss caused by myringosclerosis or tympanosclerosis can often be reversed entirely or significantly improved with treatment.

Causes

Myringosclerosis and tympanosclerosis have been considered possible autoimmune diseases.

What Is an Autoimmune Disease?

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks itself. Autoimmune diseases can be organ-specific, like psoriasis and multiple sclerosis (MS) or systemic (affect the whole body), like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The eardrum is normally thin and translucent. With these conditions, it may thicken, harden, and lose its flexibility. Chronic inflammation in the middle ear may cause these changes.

Conditions that may contribute to the development of myringosclerosis and tympanosclerosis include:

Diagnosis

An otolaryngologist, a doctor, specializing in diagnosing and treating ear, nose, and throat disorders, diagnoses these conditions.

Exam

A healthcare provider will consider your medical history. They will want to know about any history of fluid in the ears, infections, or ear surgeries.

Next, they will most likely examine your ears using an otoscope. An otoscope is a tool that is inserted into your ear canal and allows the healthcare provider to view your eardrum. It is not uncomfortable.

Hearing Tests

If your doctor notices white patches or eardrum thickening, they may use a hearing test to confirm a diagnosis. Conductive hearing loss may indicate tympanosclerosis.

A tympanometry test uses a device called a tympanometer. It looks and feels like an otoscope, and it delivers sound waves into the middle ear. These sound waves bounce off the eardrum, and their return is charted as a tympanogram graph.

A flat tympanogram can be indicative of a rigid, un-mobile eardrum. It can give false results if you talk, swallow, yawn, sneeze, or open your mouth during the test.

Treatment

Myringosclerosis is usually asymptomatic, and doesn't typically require treatment. Tympanosclerosis may need treatment if hearing loss is significant.

The treatment for tympanosclerosis is surgery to repair the eardrum and any other middle ear structures involved. A surgeon will remove the hardened (sclerotic) portions of the eardrum during surgery. They may also have to repair the middle ear bones (ossicular chain).

A complication that sometimes occurs with tympanosclerosis is when the stapes (the third bone in the middle ear) become fixed. When this happens, the stapes can't move and therefore can't transmit sound. In these circumstances, a surgeon will perform a stapedectomy or stapedotomy.

If the hearing loss does not entirely resolve following the surgery, a device such as a hearing aid may be helpful.

Summary

Myringosclerosis and tympanosclerosis are conditions that occur when there is calcium buildup on the eardrum. Myringosclerosis doesn't cause symptoms, but tympanosclerosis may result in hearing loss. Researchers believe these conditions may be autoimmune diseases. No treatment is necessary for myringosclerosis. However, surgery and hearing aids might help tympanosclerosis.

A Word From Verywell

If you are experiencing hearing loss, the cause could be tympanosclerosis. The only way to know for sure is to see an otolaryngologist for a diagnosis. They will do a simple exam to view your eardrum. They will also perform some hearing tests to determine the extent of hearing damage. The good news is that tympanosclerosis is treatable, and often people can have restored hearing after surgical treatment or with hearing aids.

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2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Aslan H, Katilmiş H, Oztürkcan S, Ilknur AE, Başoğlu S. Tympanosclerosis and our surgical results. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2010;267(5):673-7. doi:10.1007/s00405-009-1099-0

  2. Verma R, Verma R, Verma R. Scleroderma and sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Indian J Otol. 2014;20(3):123. doi: 10.4103/0971-7749.136856

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