Otosclerosis: Hearing Loss

Otosclerosis. DEA Picture Library/Getty Images

Otosclerosis is a conductive type of hearing loss involving the middle ear. Abnormal bone growth of the stapes, which is one of the 3 inner ear bones (ossicles) involved in the conduction and amplification of sound. Under normal circumstances, these three bones have the ability to amplify sound up to 3 times.

Symptoms of Otosclerosis

The most common symptom related to otosclerosis is hearing loss.

The loss may be gradual and may begin with an inability to hear low-pitched sounds or whispers. In otosclerosis, up to an estimated 60 decibels of your hearing can be lost, which can be equivalent to some levels of normal conversation. It is can particularly be difficult to hear conversations when background noise is present. Tinnitus or dizziness may also occur with otosclerosis.

Diagnosis of Otosclerosis

An audiogram and tympanogram can be used by an audiologist or otologist to determine the degree of hearing sensitivity and conductivity. A CT scan can give a definitive diagnosis of otosclerosis by showing the level of bone overgrowth which would differentiate this disorder from other causes of hearing loss.

Treatment of Otosclerosis

Treatment of otosclerosis can either be supportive (treating symptoms) or curative. Supportive therapies include:

  • hearing aid – amplification of sound may help reduce the level of hearing loss
  • calcium, fluoride (common in France), and vitamin D may have some effect in reducing hearing loss, however, the research is poorly supported and not well recommended for supportive therapy.

While there is no guarantee for a cure in surgical procedures, stapedectomy or stapedotomy may cure the disorder or help decrease the symptoms.

In rare cases, the procedure may worsen the symptoms, so an otolaryngologist should be consulted on the risks versus benefits of these surgical procedures.

Risk Factors of Otosclerosis

Research surrounds causes of otosclerosis, however, genetics do play a role in the inheritance of this disorder. Another cause without clear understanding is that hormones involved in pregnancy may lead to this disorder as well. Other risk factors also without a clear rationale include:

  • Caucasian
  • middle-aged women
  • viral infections (such as measles)


Evans, A.K. & Handler, S.D. (2015). Evaluation and management of middle ear trauma. Accessed on November 3, 2015 from http://www.uptodate.com.

Medline Plus. Otosclerosis. Accessed: March 25, 2009 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001036.htm

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. (N.D.) Common Sounds. Access on November 3, 2015 from http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/staticresources/health/education/teachers/CommonSounds.pdf.

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. (2013). Otosclerosis. Accessed on March 25, 2009 from http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/otosclerosis.aspx.