What is acoustic neuroma?
Acoustic neuroma, also known as vestibular schwannoma, is a benign tumor (non-cancerous) that affects the nerve that connects from your inner ear to the brain. This nerve is called the vestibular nerve. Acoustic neuroma affects the cells that surround the vestibular nerve are called Schwann cells. This can lead to hearing loss, ringing in the ear, dizziness and loss of balance. It may affect one side or both sides of your ear.
How common is acoustic neuroma?
Acoustic neuroma is an uncommon disease. It can affect people who are from 30 to 60 years old. It can be managed by reducing your risk factor. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of acoustic neuroma?
The most common symptom that occurs in about 90% of patients is hearing loss. This process occurs slowly. Other symptoms may include loss of balance and tinnitus (hear a ringing or a hissing sound in the ear).
In addition, tumors may develop pressure on nerves, causing numbness and tingling in the face or facial paralysis (loss of facial expression). Larger tumors can force part of the brain, resulting in headache, walking clumsy and confused. There may be other symptoms and signs that are not listed. If you have any concerns about the symptoms, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs of acoustic neuroma, you should go to the hospital or see a doctor to be tested and examined. Call your doctor if you suffer from sudden hearing loss or problems with balance; difficulty in swallowing, tingling, numbness, tingling one side on the face, especially if it occurs with dizziness, headache or other symptoms.
What causes acoustic neuroma?
Acoustic neuroma is caused by rapidly growing Schwann cells (tumor growth) surrounding the vestibular nerve. There is a gene that controls the growth of these cells, which is found on chromosome 22. The tumor is caused by a malfunction of this gene but the cause of the malfunction is still unknown.
Researchers have found that there are 2 types of acoustic neuroma. Neurofibromatosis type 1 usually affects only 1 side of the ear and is not hereditary. Neurofibromatosis type 2 affects both sides of the ear and is inherited from your parent. Type 2 is associated with the gene malfunction. Acoustic neuroma is not contagious and cannot spread out from person to person. So far, there is no way to prevent Acoustic neuroma.
What increases your risk for acoustic neuroma?
There are few risk factors that can cause acoustic neuroma. The main risk factor is having a parent that has the rare genetic disorder Neurofibromatosis type 2. Another possible risk factor is childhood exposure to low radiation of the head and neck. Talk to your doctor if you feel you are at risk for acoustic neuroma.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is acoustic neuroma diagnosed?
If you have symptoms, your doctor will perform physical test, neurological examination and a hearing test. Early diagnosis is extremely important. The doctor will require an MRI (magnetic resonance) or CT scans to diagnose tumors auditory nerve.
How is acoustic neuroma treated?
Treatments for acoustic neuroma may vary depending on the size of the tumor and the severity of your symptoms. Treatment options may include monitoring, surgery and radiation therapy. If the tumor is small in size and you are not experiencing any symptoms, the best treatment is to monitor. Your doctor may recommend to have a screening and hearing test every 6 -12 months. You should let your doctor know if you start to have any symptoms. Surgery is another treatment option. For small tumors, surgery may be the most effective treatment. Since larger tumors are closer to the brain and facial nerves, surgery can be riskier and dangerous. It can increase your risk to complications. Some complications may include:
- Leakage of cerebrospinal fluid through the wound
- Hearing loss
- Facial weakness
- Facial numbness
- Ringing in the ear
- Balance problems
- Persistent headache
- Infection of the cerebrospinal fluid (meningitis)
- Stroke or brain bleeding
Another alternative treatment is radiation, which is called Gamma knife radiosurgery. This method uses beams of high-energy gamma radiation aimed precisely at tumors to reduce the size of the tumor. It usually is not used for larger tumors. This therapy is sometimes preferred if you are elderly or in poor health, or have tumors affecting both ears. You should discuss with your doctor which treatment option is right for you.
Lifestyle Changes & Home Remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies help manage acoustic neuroma?
You should note that complications could occur by removing the tumor. Because nerves controls hearing, balance, or facial nerve may also be cut during surgery. However, the living habits and lifestyles below will help you limit the progression of nerve tumors:
- Follow up re-examination appointments.
- Regularly see the doctor to be having tested, monitored and provided treatment options to help curb the disease progresses.
- Follow up your doctor’s advices. Do not use unspecified medication or quit the prescription that was prescribed for you.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: August 15, 2016 | Last Modified: February 3, 2017
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012.Print. Page 635.
Acoustic Neuroma. (n.d.). PubMed Health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001782/. Accessed July 23, 2016.
What is Acoustic Neuroma? (n.d.) Acoustic Neuroma Association. http://anausa.org/index.php/what-is-acoustic-neuroma. Accessed July 23, 2016.