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Byline: Dr Miriam Stoppard's health focus

In otosclerosis, bone grows around one of the three tiny bones - ossicles - in the middle ear, which prevenwts transmission of sound vibrations to the inner ear and causes deafness.

Usually both ears are affected, though not always equally. Otosclerosis affects about one in 12 people and is often symptomless other than a slight hearing loss.

Symptoms develop usually between the ages of 20 and 30. We don't understand why it develops but it is twice as common in women, and in three out of five cases someone in the family also has it.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of otosclerosis develop gradually and may include:

Hearing loss in which sounds are muffled but are sometimes clearer if there is background noise.

Ringing or buzzing noises in the ears (tinnitus).

In severe cases, dizziness and imbalance (vertigo).

What might be done?

Your doctor will probably be able to diagnose otosclerosis from hearing tests and from your family history. The disease can't be halted but a digital hearing aid may be helpful. If not, consult your doctor about possible surgery to free up the ossicles.
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 18, 2012
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