Otosclerosis is a formation of spongy bone growth on the stapes, (a small bone in the inner ear), which causes the stapes to become fixed in the oval window preventing it from transmitting sound.

Otosclerosis is an inherited disease and women are 2 times more likely to develop it than men. Research has shown that the measles virus infection may activate the gene responsible for otosclerosis. This disease is generally limited to the white population.

Factors that increase our risk of getting Otosclerosis include:

  • Family history of otosclerosis
  • Race
  • Drinking nonfluoridated water: Some studies suggest that nonfluoridated water may cause a susceptible person to develop otosclerosis
  • Hormonal factors, such as pregnancy
  • Viral infections, including measles

Gradual hearing loss is the most frequent symptom, other symptoms include dizziness, balance problems and tinnitus which is a sensation of ringing, buzzing, roaring or hissing in the ear.

If the hearing loss is mild, the doctor may prescribe hearing aids or in some cases of Otosclerosis a surgical procedure called Stapedectomy can restore or improve hearing.

A Stapedectomy is done under local or general anesthesia. The surgeon removes all or part of the stapes and replaces it with a small piece of wire or plastic attached to a graft of fat to cover the oval window. The wire piece vibrates the tissues of the oval window allowing it to transmit sound.

Prevention methods include:

  • Drinking fluoridated water
  • Getting the measles vaccination