My initial symptoms: hearing loss in my right ear, along with a constant fullness and ringing/sound within the right ear.
Executive summary: I have what is known as otosclerosis, an irritation/growth of the stapes bone within the middle ear. I believe this conditiion is in BOTH ears, and I have been reported to have hearing loss in both, though more severe in the right ear.
Cause of otosclerosis - genetic. From what I was told, 10% of caucasions are known to posses the gene that allows for this conditiion to occur. 1-2% actually get the condition. Leave it to me to be within the 1-2%. (Note to self: buy lottery ticket after work.)
There are four options for treatment, according to my ear, nose and throat doctor:
1) Do nothing, and pray it doesn't get worse. Hearing loss and ringing continue.
2) Get a prescription of sodium flouride tablets, which can slow the condition. Hearing loss and ringing remain the same.
3) Get hearing aide(s). Hearing improves, ringing continues.
4) Surgery - doctors go in with a laser to open up the area, and allow for unabetted movement of the stapes bone. 90% rate of success, with up to full hearing regained and dramatic reduction of ringing. 1% chance of situation getting worse. The surgery takes 1/2 hour to an hour, and can be done under either local or general anesthehia.
Next steps: I have an appointment on Wednesday for a second opinion with a doctor who does nothing but ears, at the NY Ear & Eye Institute.