The Facts About Acoustic Neuroma Hearing Loss
Let’s face it; no one wants to ever hear the word “tumor” from a medical test or exam results. As scary as that word can be, tumors are not all equal. Luckily, acoustic neuromas are noncancerous. But, they can affect your hearing. As these tumors grow on the cranial nerve branches, they can interfere with and interrupt signals responsible for things like hearing, balance, taste, and other areas in the brain. Getting an active diagnosis can be challenging to get in the beginning because symptoms start slowly.
It’s essential to remark that almost 95% of patients diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma will only affect one side. In a few cases of genetic mutation, acoustic neuroma will affect both sides.
Symptoms include but are not limited to:
• Hearing loss in one ear
• Changes in taste or smell
• Numbness in the face
• Muscular twitching on the face
• Trouble swallowing
• Dizziness, balance problems, vertigo
• Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
• Feelings of fullness in one ear
• Changes in tear production
The long and varied list of symptoms is simple. All these places are connected to cranial nerve branches. Depending on which branches the tumor affects ultimately determines what symptoms appear. The most common symptoms are related to hearing. Diagnosis can be confirmed through an MRI as recommended by an audiologist.
What Treatment Options are Available for Acoustic Neuromas?
There are three primary avenues of treatment for dealing with acoustic neuromas. Finding the proper treatment is determined by the extent of growth, the location of the tumor, and the severity of the symptoms. Since every situation is unique, treatment options will vary in each case.
Since these tumors can be extremely slow, your doctor may opt to wait and observe further scans to determine how fast the tumor is growing or spreading. They may even recommend against surgery, especially if symptoms are mild or non-existent.
When symptoms are severe, or the tumor is growing quickly, your doctor may suggest surgery to remove the acoustic neuroma. Keep in mind while surgery will stop the tumor from causing any more damage, whatever damage has been done will remain.
In some cases, the acoustic neuroma is too deep inside the brain or too close to vital areas to allow conventional surgery. In these cases, a method known as stereotactic radiosurgery is employed to target the tumor without affecting the surrounding tissue. This technique, while effective, can only slow or stop the growth of the tumor. Like conventional surgery, any damage to hearing or sensations is unlikely to return but will not continue to degrade.
It is vital to see a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms associated with an acoustic neuroma. Schedule an appointment as early as possible to ensure you can find the right treatment plan for you. Early treatment is critical to stop the progression of damage to your hearing and other senses.