What is Acoustic Neuroma?

 Human skeleton replica, displaying nervous system

Though they are fairly uncommon, acoustic neuromas can create short term as well as long lasting symptoms. About 3.5 out of every 100,000 people are diagnosed with acoustic neuromas, also known as vestibular schwannoma.

Acoustic Neuroma Explained

An acoustic neuroma is a slow growing, benign tumor that develops on the eighth cranial nerve. This nerve connects the inner ear with the brain and influences one’s balance and hearing. Therefore, an acoustic neuroma can cause unsteadiness, hearing loss, and ringing in the ear. Over years, as the tumor grows, it can push on the brain and the nerves that affect facial expressions and sensations. Very large acoustic neuromas can potentially put pressure on the brain stem or cerebellum and can be life threatening.

Symptoms

Because of its slow growth, or lack of growth, symptoms may often be attributed to aging and can go unnoticed for some time. Symptoms include:

-          Tinnitus

-          Gradual loss of hearing in one ear

-          Vertigo

-          Headaches

-          Facial numbness

-          Unsteadiness and problems with balance

As mentioned previously, an acoustic neuroma that grows large enough can be deadly so it is important to seek out medical advice and treatment if you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms.

Diagnosing

The signs and symptoms of acoustic neuroma can mimic other inner and middle ear problems. This may make it difficult for a doctor to diagnosis an acoustic neuroma in the early stages. Therefore, if problems persist, we encourage you to make follow up appointments with an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist.

If your doctor does suspect an acoustic neuroma, he or she may order a hearing test that targets one ear at a time. They may also suggest an MRI or CT scan to further confirm the tumor.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Plymouth Ear, Nose and Throat at 508-746-8977!