Otosclerosis — the immobilization of the stapes bone — occurs slowly. Perception of hearing loss is so slow that many people with otosclerosis only become aware of their hearing loss when friends or relatives call it to their attention. Many individuals with otosclerosis compensate for their hearing loss by inadvertently learning to read lips.
Sometimes, the lip reading is conscious; at other times the person may be unaware of it. Hearing loss in otosclerosis may be in one, or both ears. When the hearing loss is in both ears, its effects on daily communication are significant. The first sign of a hearing loss can occur when a person finds themself requesting that others repeat themselves, or noting hearing difficulty when people’s faces are turned away.
Noises in the ear usually accompany otosclerosis. The sensation of background noises in the ear, even in the quiet, is called, tinnitus. In otosclerosis, tinnitus may be a broadband hissing sound, discreet tones or pulses. Also, the nerve of hearing is sometimes affected by otosclerosis. The tinnitus may be worse in this case.
Tinnitus will go away in about half the cases of otosclerosis when treated surgically. It is uncommon for the tinnitus to worsen after surgery.