Acoustic Neuroma and Unsteadiness

by Sharon Hopkins


Acoustic neuroma can be described as a tumor, which is benign (non cancerous) and grows at a slow pace. This type of tumor develops on the main nerve, which extends from the inner ear, to the brain. Since the different branches of this main nerve have a direct influence on a person's hearing abilities, the pressure that is applied by an acoustic neuroma could lead to loss in hearing, unsteadiness and a ringing sensation in the ears. Fortunately, it is not very common for this condition to lead to hearing loss in people. This is because in most cases, the tumor either grows at a very slow rate, or it does not grow at all. However, there have been instances, where the tumor grows rapidly and interferes not just with a person's hearing abilities, but also with other vital functions, if it presses against the brain. Since, it is possible to get this condition treated, it is important to consult a doctor, as soon as any acoustic neuroma symptoms become evident.

Symptoms

There are several acoustic neuroma symptoms that may appear, when the tumor presses on the nerves or the blood vessels close to the brain structures. The more the tumor grows, the more likely it is for the acoustic neuroma symptoms to appear. However, the size of the tumor does not necessarily determine its effects and it is quite possible for a small tumor to cause significant acoustic neuroma symptoms too. Given below are some of the most common acoustic neuroma symptoms:

  • Unsteadiness or loss of balance
  • Loss of hearing, which could be sudden or gradual, but is more pronounced on one side
  • Tinnitus or a ringing sensation in the ear that is affected
  • dizziness caused by vertigo
  • Numbness and weakness in the facial area

Certain acoustic neuroma symptoms are more severe than the others and therefore, in case a person suffers from unsteadiness, ringing or hearing loss, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Causes

The main cause of acoustic neuroma seems to be a gene that is malfunctioning on chromosome 22. However, the factors that could cause the gene to malfunction are still not clear. Scientists claim that in more than half the cases, this faulty gene is inherited.

Treatment

Acoustic neuroma is not a form of cancer and there are three main options used for managing this condition. These three options include periodic monitoring of the tumor, radiation and acoustic neuroma surgery.

Periodic Monitoring

There are some people who cannot undergo acoustic neuroma treatment due to their age or medical history. In such instances doctors may simply recommend patients to watch the rate at which the tumor grows every 6 months or so. If the scan shows that the growth is very slow then no treatment may be required, but in case the tumor is growing at a fast pace, then it may be necessary to undergo proper treatment.

Radiation

The purpose of this procedure is to stop the tumor from growing. Doctors may recommend radio-surgery for getting rid of any residual tumor after a surgery. However, there are certain risks that have been associated with this procedure, such as facial weakness, hearing loss and balance problems.

Acoustic Neuroma Surgery

The main purpose of an acoustic neuroma surgery is to get rid of the tumor, while preventing any damage to the facial nerves and ears. Therefore, in order to undergo the surgery, the patient will need to be given an anesthesia and then the tumor will be removed through the inner ear, or through an incision in the skull.


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