What is Acoustic Neuroma?
Acoustic neuroma is a rare disease and is a noncancerous growth on the cranial nerve. This condition is also referred to as vestibular schwannomas or neurilemmoma. It is a slow-growing tumour and develops over the years. When the tumour starts to grow it pushes the cranial nerves that control the facial muscles and sensation. It can also press the brain stem when it becomes extremely large which can be deadly. There different types of acoustic neuroma are:
- Unilateral acoustic neuromas which affect only one ear and is caused due to environmental factors
- Bilateral acoustic neuromas affect both ears and are an inherited condition.
Acoustic Neuroma Symptoms
Acoustic neuron symptoms start after the age of 40 and hence the early signs often go unnoticed. The first sign of this condition is the loss of hearing in an ear accompanied by a ringing sensation in the ear. It can also lead to sudden loss in hearing. Apart from the initial signs, a person may also have:
- Pain in the ear
- Vision problems
- Difficulty in understanding speech
- Balance problems, clumsiness
- Tingling sensation in the face that comes and goes
- Weakness in the face muscles
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Hoarse voice
- A state of confusion
Symptoms like mental confusion and clumsiness is a sign of a serious issue and need to be addressed by a neurologist immediately.
Who is at Risk?
Acoustic neuroma risk factors are:
- Having a parent who has this genetic disorder. But most of these tumours come spontaneously and can also happen in people with no history of this disease.
- People who are exposed to loud noise have an increased risk of this condition.
- People who are exposed to radiation during their childhood.
- People have a benign tumour of the thyroid called a parathyroid neuroma.
- The excessive use of cellphones is also likely to increase the chances of acoustic neuroma but it is not scientifically proven.
Acoustic Neuroma Causes
There is no clear reason to know as to why the Schwann cells multiply and lead to acoustic neuroma. Moreover, in most cases, there is no identifiable cause but certain reasons can be:
- A family history of this condition is the cause of about 5% of the cases.
- When both sides of the ear develop neuromas it is due to hereditary.
- Ageing is considered to be one of the causes as it appears between 30 to 60 years of age.
- Exposure to loud noises for the long term is suggested to be a reason for developing this tumour.
- Exposure of neck and head to radiation during childhood can cause this condition.
- Cell phone usage is thought to be a contributor to developing an acoustic neuroma.
How is Acoustic Neuroma Diagnosed?
If you have any of the above symptoms, taking the help of a doctor can help in the acoustic neuroma diagnosis. As part of this, the following tests will be conducted:
- Hearing test: The detailed family history and the symptoms are taken by the doctor performing the diagnosis. That is followed by a hearing test to check the level of hearing loss.
- To check the neurological functioning, the brain stem auditory response tests are conducted.
- MRI and CT scans are performed to get the images of the head. If the tumour is seen, the location and the size is noted.
- An electronystagmography is done by noticing the eye movements to check for inner eye problems.
How is Acoustic Neuroma Treated?
The acoustic neuroma treatment depends on factors like age, health, location, and size of the tumour. In some cases where the tumour is small and is growing slowly, there is no need for an acoustic neuroma cure. If treatment is needed, some of the options are:
- Radiation therapy: It is a non-invasive treatment where the radiation targets the tumour and reduces it.
- Microsurgery: This is done to remove all or some parts of the tumour. It is sometimes done in conjunction with radiation therapy. Radiation reduces the size and the traces of tumours can be removed surgically.
- Medications: Acoustic Neuroma emedicine has a role in limiting the growth of the tumour and also inhibits the cell that leads to this tumour.
If you have hearing loss do not neglect it as it can be an acoustic neuroma. Book your online consultation through Cure.fit for Acoustic Neuroma Doctor to get a consultation.
How can Acoustic Neuroma be Prevented?
There is no known prevention of Acoustic Neuroma. Scientists are looking to use gene therapy as a way to control the production of Schwann cells. Until that becomes successful, early diagnosis is the key as it helps in controlling the growth of the tumour.