Acoustic neuromas grow on the nerve connecting the brain and ear. Acoustic neuromas are noncancerous tumours. These tumours are benign and they do not spread to other body parts. But they are capable of growing to a large shape and thus cause damage to important nerves. A stat shows that acoustic neuromas occur in one out of fifty thousand people. Risk Factors:
There is only one known risk factor for this condition. If a child has a parent with the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis type 2, then he/she may be at risk. But a vast majority of these tumours occur spontaneously. It is also possible that people with no family history of the disease will also be affected. There is no theoretical explanation for the occurrence of acoustic neuromas.
Some risk factors include:
*exposure to low level of radiation during childhoodSymptoms:
If the acoustic neuromas are small, there will be no specific symptoms. The symptoms will come to light only after the neuromas get large and start to affect surrounding nerves. The most common symptom is gradually losing hearing on one side of the head. This hearing loss occurs gradually. But it is also possible to lose hearing very suddenly. Other common symptoms include vertigo, dizziness and ringing in the ears. These tumours are also linked to facial numbness, weakness and problems with balance.
Some less common symptoms include:
*difficult to understand speech
*pain in the face or ear
*numbness in the face or ear
Treatment is not always necessary for acoustic neuroma. If it is diagnosed at an early stage, the doctor will just monitor the growth and extension of the tumour with regular MRIs. But a lack of treatment may lead to a fatal condition called hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is characterized by fluid buildup within the brain.
If the tumour is small, then its growth can be stopped by stereotactic radiosurgery. In this method, radiation is applied to the small area of the head where the tumour has started growing. But this process is very slow. It may take even years to get rid of the tumour completely. If the tumour is very large or fast growing, then surgery is prescribed. But there are some risks associated with this surgery. These risks include:
*complete loss of hearing
*weakened facial muscles
*ringing in the ears
*problems with balance
To prevent hearing loss, consult a doctor immediately if you start experiencing acoustic neuroma symptoms. If hearing is lost, it will not return after treatment.