​Otosclerosis


Otosclerosis is a disorder of the ear, whereby bones of the middle ear grow abnormally. These bones help transmit sound waves as vibrations into the middle ear. Due to abnormal growth and remodelling of these bones, the bones of the middle ear get intertwined into an immovable mass, hence becoming unable to vibrate and not being able to transmit sound as well as they could if they were flexible. This leads to hearing impairment.

Having a family history of otosclerosis makes you more prone to developing this disorder. The exact cause of this disorder is not definite, though it could be linked to a history of viral infections, such as measles. It is more common in young adults and women show a higher incidence of this disorder than men, with the disorder being more progressive with pregnancy. Otosclerosis may affect one or both ears.


People who suffer from otosclerosis experience hearing loss which increases gradually. At first, only low-pitched sounds or whispers may become inaudible for you, with hearing impairment increasing over time. Other signs and symptoms accompanying hearing loss could be:

  • Dizziness or vertigo

  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ear

  • Problems with balance

Since the symptoms of otosclerosis are progressive, i.e. they become worse gradually, you must see your doctor as soon as you start noticing hearing loss. Sometimes the onset of otosclerosis may go unnoticed for several years, and therefore early warning signs must not be ignored.

Any form of hearing loss, whether mild or severe should be a cause for concern and must be evaluated by a doctor. If you are a woman suspect that you have experienced hearing loss during pregnancy, or you have a history of chronic measles infection and are exhibiting symptoms of otosclerosis, you must see an ENT (Eye-Nose-Throat) specialist immediately. Signs of worsening symptoms, such as severe vertigo or tinnitus (buzzing or hissing in the ear) should also necessitate a visit to the doctor.

The team of highly qualified otolaryngologists (ENT specialists) at The Aga Khan University Hospital are trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT). Rest assured, your doctor will evaluate and assess your disorder individually and come up with a specialized treatment plan for you.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

A physical examination and medical history will help the doctor make an initial diagnosis for otosclerosis. Your medical history will include asking questions about your symptoms and any previous ear, nose and throat disorders. Your doctor will also conduct a physical examination of your ear to check for any other disorders, such as earwax blockage. These will help the doctor rule out the possibility of other diseases which could be causing hearing loss.

A history of gradually increasing or progressive hearing loss will also make your doctor suspect the presence of otosclerosis.

Hearing tests are also conducted to help assess the extent of hearing loss by carefully evaluating the pattern of hearing as experienced by you. Imaging tests such as the CT (Computerized Tomography) scan may also be requested to diagnose otosclerosis, especially in the early stages of the disease.

Treatment for otosclerosis will depend on how far the disorder has progressed. In cases where hearing loss is not very advanced, hearing aids will be recommended for sound amplification for you. These are effective in cases where hearing loss is not extreme.

Currently, no medicine in particular has proven to be effective in treating otosclerosis. In cases where the disease has progressed to an advance stage, surgery is often required. The surgical procedure involved is called a stapedectomy, whereby the ENT surgeon will replace the affected ear bones with a prosthetic device which allows sound waves and vibrations to travel through to the inner ear.

Our team of ENT surgeons is internationally trained in providing you with the best treatment option according to your symptoms. You must discuss all potential risks, complications and benefit of surgery in detail with your ENT specialist to clarify all the limitations and advantages of surgery.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
 
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
 
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.


​​The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.