Question: Recently semi-diagnosed with otosclerosis. History of swimmers ear, right ear, and for over 3 years recurrent ear infections, and one time small staff infection at the beach. It all cleared up. I was fine until Oct 29th of this year, took a mountain trip with sinus trouble, ear popped and now having clogged ear feeling. Right ear only with buzzing and screeching sound now. For about 6 weeks, spent with an ENT in Charlotte after several hearing evaluations at my visit, he is pretty sure it is otosclerosis. Can this come on that sudden? Do I have otosclerosis? The doctor says I am not ready for surgery yet. He will recheck my ear in 4 weeks, and then maybe consider a small hearing device. I have no pain or balance problems. But sometimes, I hear my bones or something in the back if my ear/head make a sound. Help!
Thank you for your inquiry. It’s difficult to be sure whether you have otosclerosis or the consequences of prior ear infections. Of course, there is more than one condition that can present with ear stuffiness and hearing loss. It is possible for it to start rather suddenly, or you become suddenly aware of something that has been slowly developing.
Otosclerosis is a problem that causes stiffening of the joints between the little hearing bones (ossicles) in the middle ear. This serves to muffle the sound as it goes from the eardrum, through the ossicles to the inner ear. It usually develops when you’re in the 20s and can cause a significant hearing loss. Otosclerosis is readily treated with surgery to replace these bones (stapedectomy) or with hearing aids.
Usually, the diagnosis becomes clearer as time passes, and with careful examinations. If it worsens, surgery or hearing aids are considered. If you send us a copy of your hearing test, we may be able to give you a better idea.
I hope this helps clear things up.
Best of Luck.
Neil M Sperling, MD
New York Otolaryngology Group
36A East 36th Street
New York, NY 10016