What is the main symptom of otosclerosis?
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?
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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- Niedermeyer HP, Arnold W; Otosclerosis and measles virus - association or causation? ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 2008 70(1):63-9
- Vicente Ade O, Yamashita HK, Albernaz PL, et al; Computed tomography in the diagnosis of otosclerosis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2006 Apr 134(4):685-92.
- Cruise AS, Singh A, Quiney RE; Sodium fluoride in otosclerosis treatment: review. J Laryngol Otol. 2010 Jun 124(6):583-6. Epub 2010 Feb 18.
- Otosclerosis; British Tinnitus Association
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