Otosclerosis is considered an abnormal growth of the bones within the middle ear. This bone prohibits the structures in the ear from functioning properly and in turn causes loss of hearing. For people dealing with otosclerosis, hearing loss can become profound.
How Does the Hearing Process Work?
Hearing is actually a chain of events that work together with the ear to transfer the sound waves into an electrical signal, which in turn causes the impulses from the nerves to be transmitted directly to the brain to allow them to be interpreted into sound. There are three main components that make up the ear: the middle, inner and outer ear. Sound waves make their way into the outer ear and then head to the middle ear, which is where they trigger vibrations within the eardrum. The vibrations are then sent into the three miniscule bones known as the ossicles. Those bones are known as the malleus, stapes and incus.
It is the responsibility of the ossicles and the eardrum to transmit the vibrations through to the inner ear. The stirrup then sends the vibrations to the window and through to the fluid that consumes the inner ear. Those vibrations then move the fluid into the part of the inner ear that is shaped like a snail containing the hair cells. Cochlear fluid moves into the upper part of the hair cells, which then signals the changes that trigger the production of the impulses within the nerves. Those impulses are then carried into the brain to be interpreted as sound. Differences in sounds are able to stimulate the different parts of your inner ear, thus allowing the brain to differentiate between all of the various sounds. Consider the differences between the ways a vowel sounds versus a consonant.
How Can Otosclerosis Trigger a Loss of Hearing?
There are multiple types of hearing loss that can be caused due to otosclerosis, depending upon what structure is affected within the ears. Generally, it affects the final bone within the chain, which sits at the entrance into the window. The abnormality within the bone forms a fixation of the stapes within the window and causes an interference with any of the sound waves that are passing into the inner ear.
It is normally a conductive loss of hearing when it comes to otosclerosis, which is a loss of hearing within the outer ear or middle ear. On a less frequent basis, it can lead to a sensorineural loss of hearing, which is damage to the nerve fibres located within the inner ear and the sensory cells. Conductive hearing loss is also another problem that you may encounter.
What Are the Causes of Otosclerosis?
Research indicates that the otosclerosis occurs in families, or it can be passed down from a parent to their child. However, the actual cause of otosclerosis is not entirely understood. People with a family history of the condition are at an increased chance of developing the disorder than their counterparts who have no connection with the condition. Generally, when you have one of your parents with the condition there is a 25 percent chance that you may develop the condition yourself. If you have two parents who have the condition, your risk will double to half. Numerous studies have shown that women who are white and middle-aged are at the highest level of risk thus far.