Acoustic neuroma, also known as vestibular schwannoma, is a non-cancerous (benign) tumor that develops on the vestibular nerve, which is responsible for transmitting balance and hearing information from the inner ear to the brain.
Acoustic neuromas are rare, accounting for less than 10% of all tumors in the brain, but they can cause significant problems if they grow large enough to press on nearby structures.
Symptoms of an acoustic neuroma may include:
Hearing loss in one ear: Acoustic neuromas often cause gradual hearing loss, especially for high-pitched sounds.
Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in the ear that is often associated with hearing loss.
Balance problems: As the tumor grows, it can press on the vestibular nerve and cause vertigo, dizziness, or difficulty with balance.
Headaches: Some people with an acoustic neuroma may experience headaches or facial pain.
The exact cause of acoustic neuromas is unknown, but they are thought to be caused by a genetic mutation that leads to the abnormal growth of Schwann cells, which produce the myelin sheath that surrounds nerves.
Treatment for acoustic neuroma depends on the size and location of the tumor, as well as the person's overall health and medical history. Small tumors may be monitored with regular imaging tests, while larger tumors may require surgery or radiation therapy.
In some cases, a combination of treatments may be used to manage the tumor and reduce symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve outcomes and reduce the risk of complications.