An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor of the inner ear that can cause problems with the auditory system, including hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo and dizziness, patients of all ages. Acoustic neuromas form on the vestibular nerve, which resides in the inner ear and is responsible for balance. Although these tumors, sometimes referred to as a vestibular schwannoma, are non-cancerous and usually grow slowly, they can cause problems with hearing and balance. It’s important for patients to be aware of the signs and symptoms of acoustic neuromas.
Tumor Signs and Symptoms
Because of their slow growth rate, symptoms of acoustic neuroma can be difficult to identify. Early signs such as progressive hearing loss and tinnitus are the most commonly reported symptoms. Other symptoms usually appear later (if at all) and might include balance problems such as dizziness or vertigo; facial numbness, weakness, tingling or twitching; headaches; hoarseness; difficulty swallowing and a change in taste.
Types of Acoustic Neuromas
Acoustic neuromas are classified as either sporadic or hereditary. Sporadic acoustic neuromas are much more commonly treated in Thousand Oaks audiologists’ offices, comprising 95 percent of all cases. The hereditary type is the result of a genetic disorder known as neurofibromatosis type II, associated with a malfunctioning gene on chromosome 22. If a parent has NF2, the child has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the condition. Sporadic acoustic neuromas have no known cause.
If you want to learn more about acoustic neuromas including their potential risk factors and treatment options, check back next week for Part 2 of this post on acoustic neuromas. To learn more or get an audiological exam, contact your Thousand Oaks audiologist to schedule an appointment.