What is Otosclerosis?
Otosclerosis is an example of a vestibular disorder that can lead to hearing loss. The name itself, Oto (Greek for ear and sclerosis (what medical professionals generally call the process of organ and tissue hardening) implies an abnormal growth of bone in the inner ear. Generally speaking, we are talking about a hardening processes inside the ear preventing hearing systems from functioning properly. Let’s take an even closer look:
To understand this condition we have to know how sound is transmitted in the human ear. Sound first hits the ear drum and is then transmitted to the inner ear via the ossicles in the middle ear. It works its way there via the hammer, anvil and stirrup. These three ossicles must be flexible and able to vibrate to transmit sound. Sound is then transmitted from the stirrup to the inner ear via a transition area. This function is impaired in persons suffering from otosclerosis. The stirrup is most often affected by ossification, where it becomes inflexible. This inflexibility results in hearing loss as no sufficient signal can be passed on to the cochlear in the inner ear.