I, too, was diagnosed with otosclerosis in one ear (my right one) in June of this year, after a few years of increasing hearing loss. My left ear used to have normal hearing, so I really noticed the decline in the hearing of my right ear since the birth of my two children, the second of whom was born last summer, which supports the idea that otosclerosis is at least somewhat affected by female hormone levels. Anyway…it seems there isn’t that much known about otosclerosis. And much of what I’ve read about it seems contradictory from one article to the next.
I saw an ENT in August. He’s convinced that a stapedectomy would give my right ear “near normal” functioning, and told me that if I have the surgery done, the hearing in my right ear would equal that of the hearing in my left ear (which actually has a mild hearing loss). He sent off a referral to the ear surgeon; I’m waiting on appointment date with him. In the interim, I’ve been back to see the ENT again, because I seem to have a hearing loss that fluctuates by 10-15 dB depending on the day and how bad my Eustachian tube dysfunction is acting up. I’ve point blank asked the ENT if I could go deaf from this. He insists that I can’t - that the worst a conductive hearing loss can get is about 50-60 dB. Sadly, there is nothing on the internet to support what he’s saying. I also asked him directly about the possibility of otosclerosis spreading into my cochlea - thus leading to sensorineural hearing loss. He said, “It’s very rare. I’ve never seen a case where it’s spread into the cochlea.” But again, the internet makes it seem like that is at least a somewhat common experience… He was really unable to tell me if or how fast my hearing loss will progress… it’s very frustrating. He seems to think the surgery will fix everything. I don’t subscribe to that point of view.
Like Shelby said, it does seem that otosclerosis can progress rapidly or slowly. I, too, had a drop of about 10-15 dB in some frequencies in my right ear between June and October of this year. The ENT said that at my age, the hearing loss should have “almost maxed out by now”. From what I’ve read, the hearing loss does tend to get to its worst in a person’s late 30s/early 40s. I’m sure that won’t make you feel better at your age, but 95% of the articles I’ve read DO indicate that the conductive aspect of hearing loss in otosclerosis should be at its worst by the time a person’s in their early 40s.
Most recently, I’ve been seeing a new audiologist. The hearing in my “good” ear has dropped a bit this summer (my latest audiogram is in my signature below), which scares the heck out of me! The ENT thought that with my new audiogram, my left ear is now also showing signs of otosclerosis as there is now a significant conductive component to the loss, although not significant enough for an operation. My ENT isn’t at all concerned. I, on the other hand, am pretty worried. A stapedectomy isn’t a guarantee. Some people get years of benefit from the surgery, but many don’t. As of right now, hearing aidS (not just one aid as my ENT said) are in my future permanently I suspect.
On top of all of this, my audiologist, who is herself hearing impaired, is quite skeptical about the stapedectomy. She has 20 years of experience, and has quite bluntly told me that in her experience, my hearing loss isn’t bad enough yet to merit the surgery. She said that the difference between the air conduction and bone conduction tests should be at least 30 dB in order to derive the most benefit from a stapedectomy. The difference between ac and bc hearing for me ranges from 15 to 20 dB in most frequencies in my right ear. She also said that I appear to have some sensorineural hearing loss in the high frequencies in my right ear - yet the ENT insisted that was not the case. After reading A LOT, I’m sure my audiologist is correct. I have low frequency conductive hearing loss, but high frequency sensorineural loss… So is this otosclerosis? Now I’m not so sure. Hopefully the otologist (ear surgeon) can tell me what is ACTUALLY going on when I finally get in to see him, which should be in late December or early January.
Anyway, Becki…I’m sorry this is happening to you! If it’s any consolation at all, there are others who are going through what you are going through (like me!), so hopefully we can all support each other! Hearing loss is daunting at any age. One thing I might recommend is that you see an otologist - a doctor who specializes in ears only!!! ENTs are good, but otologists are really the experts in hearing pathology.
Please let us know how you are doing. Finding out about hearing loss can be very emotional, I know!!! I’ve had a rough summer coming to terms with it myself. Just know that you are not alone…