After two pregnancies Kate was almost deaf
The moment that Kate Llewellyn-Waters from Bath first discovered in England that she was nearly deaf could not have been more dramatic. At the first birth of her first child’s caesarean section, the newly minted mother panicked – because she did not hear her daughter screaming. As it turned out, Kate lost 60 percent of her hearing power during pregnancy. In another pregnancy, she lost another ten percent.
The diagnosis: Otosclerosis. We reveal what exactly that is and what it has to do with a pregnancy. The whole story of Kate you see in the video.
What is Otosclerosis?
The cause of Kate’s near-deafness is the so-called otosclerosis. It is a disease that leads to the adhesion of the inner ear bones. When listening, sound waves first hit the eardrum and are then directed into the middle ear via the ossicles, hammer, anvil and stirrup into the inner ear. These bones must be able to move and swing. In otosclerosis, the stapes is usually fused and can no longer send an auditory signal to the cochlea in the inner ear. In addition, otosclerosis is associated with tinnitus in many sufferers. They usually perceive lower tones than permanent ear noise.
How otosclerosis develops is not fully understood. Since it comes to accumulations in relatives, genetic causes are possible. Also, measles viruses or hormonal changes are conceivable as the cause of otosclerosis.
The disease occurs at about every 250th. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men and whites more often than People of Color. The disease usually occurs between the age of 20 and 40 years.
What does otosclerosis have to do with pregnancy?
Kate Llewellyn-Waters is not the only otosclerosis patient whose symptoms first appeared in pregnancy. Many women with the disorder show the first signs of pregnancy. In some, even later during menopause. Even taking the pill can aggravate the symptoms. Therefore, it is also believed that female sex hormones might play a role in otosclerosis.
How is Otosclerosis treated?
The otosclerosis can not be treated medically. If only mild hearing loss occurs, a hearing aid can help. One solution to cure the hearing loss caused by otosclerosis is surgery. There are two surgical approaches to restore hearing: stapedectomy and stapedotomy.
In stapedectomy, the complete stirrup, which, like the stirrup on the saddle, consists of a long leg and a shorter plate, is removed and replaced with a prosthesis. Today, however, the stapedotomy is more common, in which not the entire stirrup, but only the leg is removed. The stirrup plate remains in this operation. Again, a prosthesis is used to replace the removed part.
Both operations are performed under local anesthesia and usually do not take more than half an hour. Afterwards, a special ear bandage must be worn for at least two weeks.