Acoustic vestibular schwannoma or the acoustic neuroma is a kind of tumour. But this tumour is benign which means it is non-cancerous. The vestibular nerve connects your ear to your brain, it is responsible for hearing and balancing. An acoustic neuroma develops on the vestibular nerve. And it can cause hearing impairment.
How does acoustic Vestibular Schwannoma occur?
The vestibular nerve is lined with Schwann cells. Sometimes, these cells start to develop rapidly. This forms a mound on the nerve, it slowly becomes large enough to prod against the brain, and this adversely affects the actions of the brain.
What are the Symptoms?
In the early phases, the tumour does not trigger any symptoms. They begin to manifest once the tumour starts expanding. Here is a list of the symptoms of acoustic vestibular schwannoma-
• Gradual hearing loss
• Misalignment and losing balance
• Ringing in the ears.
• Regions of numbness in your face
Even though these tumours are benign, sometimes they enlarge to such an extent that they can be harmful to the brain. As soon as you witness the above-mentioned symptoms, book an appointment with a doctor.
With timely treatment and medication, doctors can reverse the growth of an acoustic vestibular schwannoma.
What triggers this Disease?
The exact cause of this disease is not known. It could be any one of the following-
• A chromosomal anomaly or a malfunctioning gene
• Inhibition in the function of the protein suppressor that regulates the growth of Schwann cells
How is Acoustic Vestibular Schwannoma detected?
Your doctor will recommend these tests-
• Audiometry -
The audiologist will present sounds at different frequencies and you will have to make a gesture whenever you hear a sound. This will reveal the state of your hearing.
If the tumour is tiny, your doctor won’t prescribe medicines but your tumour will be monitored and imaged regularly so that the proper action can be taken as soon as it begins to enlarge.
• Surgery -
If the tumour is large, then you might have to undergo surgery. Not only will the tumour be removed, but also care will be taken to preserve the facial nerve so that facial paralysis does not set in.
You will be placed under general anaesthesia. The surgeon will drill a small hole in your skull near the ears and extract the tumour through your inner ears.
• Radiation -
If the tumour is small or if the patient is elderly and surgery can cause complications, doctors suggest radiation therapy. In this therapy, gamma rays are directed towards the tumour to shrink it.
Acoustic vestibular schwannoma can be treated if diagnosed on time. So, if you have noticed any symptoms, talk to a doctor right away.