Otosclerosis is supposed to be a rare condition, but it affects more than 3 million people in the US alone. This condition can cause hearing loss and it starts when a small bone in the middle ear gets stuck in place. This bone is usually the one called the stapes. The bone tissue grows around the stapes improperly, which keeps the stapes from vibrating. This in turn prevents sound from traveling from the middle ear to the inner ear, so you’re unable to hear well.
Not even the medical experts know for certain what causes otosclerosis. This makes it more difficult to determine the chances of a person getting this condition. However, the researchers in this field have collected several statistics and trends regarding the risk factors for the problem:
- People can develop this medical condition when they’re between the ages of 10 and 45 years old. But for the most part, patients are more likely to develop otosclerosis while they’re in their 20s. However, the symptoms are the worst when they’re in their 30s.
- There may be a genetic component, as this can run in families. About half of all patients who develop otosclerosis have a gene that is associated with the condition. However, having this particular gene doesn’t necessarily mean that the person will develop the condition.
- This medical condition can affect both men and women. However, more women than men develop this problem. In addition, women who develop otosclerosis during their pregnancy tend to lose their hearing faster, compared to the men and the women who weren’t pregnant when they had this problem.
- The condition is most prevalent among Caucasians, as almost 105 of that racial group can develop the problem. It’s not as common in the other racial groups, and it’s very rare for African-Americans.
- If a person had measles at any time in their life, it probably increased their chances of developing otosclerosis.
- The condition is also more likely to develop in a person who has stress fractures to the bony tissue around their inner ear.
- Immune disorders, in which the immune system of a patient attacks part of the patient’s body by mistake, have also been linked to otosclerosis.
If you do get otosclerosis, at least you have treatment options. If the case is mild, the otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor, or ENT doctor) may take a slow approach while testing your hearing regularly. A hearing aid may also be recommended. However, serious cases may require surgery. This may help, but like all surgical procedures it has risks as well.
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