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Acoustic Neuroma - What Is It & Its Symptoms?

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, Diploma In Otorhinolaryngology (DLO), DNB (ENT)
ENT Specialist, Ghaziabad  •  26 years experience
Acoustic Neuroma - What Is It & Its Symptoms?

Acoustic neuroma refers to a tumour that grows on the main vestibular nerve connecting the inner ear to the brain. This nerve has a direct influence on both hearing and balance. This is a very slow growing tumour that is non-cancerous in nature. It is also known as a vestibular schwannoma. If left untreated, the pressure an acoustic neuroma puts on the nerve can cause a loss of hearing and unsteadiness.

An acoustic neuroma grows very slowly and hence the symptoms can often be very subtle. In many cases, this condition goes undetected for a very long time. Symptoms of an acoustic neuroma usually are a result of tumours effect on balance and hearing. A tumour may also put pressure on the nerves controlling the facial muscles and adjacent blood vessels. Thus, symptoms are usually noticeable only after a tumour has grown quite big. The most common symptoms associated with this condition are:

  1. Loss of hearing – This is usually gradual but in some cases, the patient may suddenly experience a loss of hearing. Hearing loss caused by acoustic neuromas is usually more pronounced in one ear or is affected only in one ear.
  2. Tinnitus This can be described as a ringing sensation in the ear. This is usually experienced only in the affected ear.
  3. Loss of Balance – When the neuroma puts pressure on the nerves of the inner ear, a person may find himself unsteady and have a higher risk of bumping into things or being clumsy.
  4. Dizziness The inner ear not only helps with hearing but also helps maintain balance. Thus, if extra pressure is put on these nerves, the patient might find himself experiencing frequent bouts of dizziness.
  5. Facial numbness An acoustic neuroma also puts pressure on the nerves connected to facial tissue. Thus, it may cause slight facial numbness or a tingling sensation. There could also be a loss of movement in the facial tissues.

Acoustic neuromas are easily treatable. Treatment for this condition usually takes the form of surgery to remove a tumour or radiation therapy. This too is suggested only if a tumour grows large enough to have serious symptoms. For small tumours, doctors usually simply observe the growth rate of a tumour and prescribe medications to relieve the symptoms if any. However, this condition should never be ignored as in a few cases, the tumour can grow very large and affect the brain stream. It can even be life-threatening in such cases. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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