Otosclerosis - Symptoms

What is the main symptom of otosclerosis?

Hearing loss

Hearing loss is the main symptom of otosclerosis. The hearing loss may remain mild but commonly it gradually becomes worse. It usually affects both ears, but not always. In some people the hearing loss stays mild for a number of years before getting worse. In others the hearing loss quickly becomes worse. Without treatment, in time, the affected ears often become totally deaf.

The hearing loss is usually of lower sounds, whereas age-related hearing loss has more effect on higher-pitched sounds.

What other symptoms may occur in otosclerosis?

Speaking softly

If you have otosclerosis, you may speak unusually quietly. The effect of otosclerosis on your ears is to make your own voice sound loud to you.

Hearing better in noisy surroundings

Paracusis is also common. If you have this, you can hear better when there is a lot of background noise. For example, you seem to hear better when talking to someone in a pub or a café that is full of other people. This may be because other people raise their voices in noisy places.

Hearing sounds from within your body

Tinnitus is an abnormal noise which you hear but which seems not to come from outside your ear. It occurs in about 4 in 5 people with otosclerosis. Noises heard include ringing, whistles, roaring, machine-type noises, etc. Tinnitus tends to worsen as hearing loss worsens.

Dizziness and balance problems

Vertigo is a condition where problems with dizziness and balance are experienced. This condition develops in some people with otosclerosis, although it is less common. It occurs when the balance mechanism in the inner ear (the semicircular canals) is affected.

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Dr Jan Sambrook
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Helen Huins
Document ID:
4587 (v43)
Last Checked:
10 May 2017
Next Review:
29 June 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.