Acoustic Neuroma: What is it?

  1. Acoustic Neuroma

Also called vestibular schwannoma, acoustic neuroma is a slow-growing, non-cancerous tumor. It’s often a hearing-related issue since it primarily affects the vestibular nerve, the main nerve from the inner ear to the brain. Below, we go over the basics of acoustic neuroma and whether or not a hearing aid may help if you have this type of tumor.

What Causes Acoustic Neuroma?

Acoustic neuroma is believed to be associated with a gene malfunction that’s not fully understood. Specifically, it’s an inherited gene abnormality on Chromosome 22. Normally, this gene inhibits tumor growth. A rare genetic disorder known as Neurofibromatosis Type 2 is the only known risk factor for acoustic neuroma.

What Are Possible Signs and Symptoms?

With acoustic neuroma, pressure from the tumor can affect nerve branches extending from the vestibular nerve, which may contribute to balance and hearing loss issues. As the tumor grows, it can irritate or compress nearby nerves, including ones that control facial muscles and structures in the brain.

Possible signs and symptoms associated with acoustic neuroma may include and involve:

• Gradual hearing loss that’s more noticeable on one side*

• Tinnitus in the affected ear

• Balance issues

• Sensations of feeling off-balance or vertigo

• Numbness in the face

*In some cases, hearing loss may be more sudden.

In rare instances, acoustic neuroma may cause facial muscle weakness or loss of muscle movement. The brainstem may also be affected in a potentially life-threatening way, but this is also rare.

How Is Acoustic Neuroma Diagnosed and Treated?

Because hearing loss is often one of the first noticeable signs of a problem, it’s not unusual for a hearing specialist to diagnose acoustic neuroma. Diagnosis typically involves hearing and imaging tests.

With a smaller acoustic neuroma, treatment may only involve regular monitoring. In other instances, treatment may include:

• Surgery to completely remove the tumor

• Surgery to relieve nerve pressure if it’s not possible to remove the entire tumor

• A type of radiation therapy referred to as stereotactic radiosurgery

• Proton beam therapy

Can You Wear Hearing Aids with a Tumor or Lesion?

This question will depend on how the tumor or lesion is affecting your hearing and the type of hearing loss involved. If acoustic neuroma results in single-sided deafness, for instance, a specially designed hearing aid or one that’s bone-anchored may be beneficial. Hearing aids may also be recommended if there’s any lingering ear nerve damage following partial or complete tumor removal.

Call Us Today

Beltone Dallas Fort Worth is the hearing aid center you can come to for any hearing-related concerns. If acoustic neuroma is a factor, we’ll assess your situation and let you know what options are available. Your specific circumstances and preferences will be taken into consideration so you make confident well-informed decisions.

Contact us today to learn more about your hearing aid options available if you have acoustic neuroma.