Acoustic neuroma has a lot of similarity with any middle ear problem. This article is going to provide the right guidance that will help you in recognizing its symptoms.
An acoustic neuroma can be defined as a growth of a benign tumor in the cells of the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain. The canal is located at the back of the ear just under the brain. It is often referred to as Auditory Tumor condition. This kind of tumor grows at a very slow pace. When the size of the tumor grows, it exerts pressure on the audio system as well as balancing system of the brain.
As a result, one starts experiencing various symptoms of this condition. The exact cause behind such an abnormal growth of cells inside the ear is not yet known. Various research studies have found that it is caused due to a defect in a specific gene that prevents formation of tumors in our body. Elderly are at a higher risk of getting this rare kind of health problem.
In most cases, during the initial stages, the symptoms may not show up at all. Or else, the symptoms are so mild that people tend to overlook them. Gradually, following symptoms are noticed:
Hearing Loss: There is a strong connection between acoustic neuroma and hearing loss. In fact, it is the first noticeable sign of this condition. As a result, the patient is unable to understand the words properly. This can be recognized particularly while using telephone. The characteristics of this kind of hearing loss is that it affects only one side of the ear and hearing in both the ears is not affected.
Tinnitus (Ringing of the Ears): This can be described as hearing of different sounds like ringing or hissing inside the head when actually there is no sound. This can be felt constantly or in breaks. The volume of tinnitus can also vary from subtle to intense.
Loss of Balance: Problem in balancing the body is another early sign. Initially, this symptom may show up once in a while but as the tumor grows larger, loss of balance can occur more frequently. Most of the time, the patient tends to fall down on the side of the affected ear. Many patients complain of vertigo as well.
Headache: It has been found that acoustic neuroma and headaches are related. Whenever the tumor puts pressure inside the skull, one feels a sense of heaviness in the head. Sometimes, it may get extended up to the neck as well. Usually, the headache is felt in one part of the head. It is particularly bad in the morning and at night. It tends to get aggravated while lying down, standing up, coughing, sneezing etc.
Other Causes: Acoustic neuroma and vision problems are linked in some of the cases. It may lead to double vision or occasional blurred vision. Due to this tumor, the facial muscles may get affected as well. Pain, weakness, numbness, twitches are often felt in the face for this reason. In advanced cases, where the tumor is allowed to grow uncontrolled, it may start growing inside the skull cavity and compress the brain stem which could lead to a life-threatening condition.
Acoustic neuroma is diagnosed with the help of CT scan and MRI scan. The treatment depends largely on the size of the tumor. If it is small enough, then doctors may not think of its removal and it will be monitored closely. For a bigger tumor, the treatment involves surgical removal of the tumor with the help of microsurgery techniques. Another form of treatment is radiation therapy.
Here the growth of the tumor is either stopped or slowed down using gamma radiation. This procedure is good particularly for elderly and sick patients. However, both the forms of treatment have side effects like damage to the facial nerve and loss of hearing. Acoustic neuroma and pregnancy is often a critical condition and has to be handled carefully. This is because the symptoms worsen during pregnancy but the surgery cannot be carried out as there are chances of abortion.
Recognizing the symptoms at an early stage is important as it will facilitate timely diagnosis and treatment of the problem. This will increase the chances of complete recovery from the condition. Finally, I would like to add one thing, that this type of tumor does not spread to any other part of the body and does not cause cancer.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.