It is an understatement to say that the ear is fascinating. The design of the ear is miraculous in its intricate design. It allows us not only to hear but also to stay balanced. When something goes wrong with the ear, it affects entire lives. While some conditions are far more common, such as age-related hearing loss or ear infections, some issues are rare but consequential. Acoustic neuroma, which occurs more often in women, yet in 1 in 100,000 people, is one of those diseases.
What Is Acoustic Neuroma?
Deep within the ear, the eighth cranial nerve connects the inner ear to the brain. It splits into two branches called the vestibular branch and the cochlear branch. While the cochlear branch sends sound to the brain, the vestibular one transmits information about balance. An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that grows on the vestibular branch. It develops from what is called a Schwann cell, which insulates nerves outside of the central nervous system. This growth can put pressure on the inner ear, surrounding cranial nerves, and even the brain stem if it is large enough.
Symptoms and Causes of Acoustic Neuroma
Hearing loss is perhaps the most common symptom of acoustic neuroma. The ability to discern speech can be disproportionate to the patient’s level of hearing loss. Hearing loss can also fluctuate. Other symptoms include Tinnitus (ringing in the ears,) dizziness, and imbalance. More severe cases have seen facial numbness and trouble swallowing. Because tumors grow so slowly, the body can compensate for the challenges until the growth becomes undoubtedly felt. People do not generally know why acoustic neuromas develop, but researchers have discovered that a subset of cases is due to a rare genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis.
Treatment for Acoustic Neuroma
Treatment for acoustic neuroma includes three options: observation, surgery, and radiation. If the tumor is small and is either growing slowly or not at all, doctors may watch and wait to see how it progresses. Surgery will remove the tumor with minimum damage to surrounding nerves, while radiation will stop its growth with minimum damage. In the outcome, affected areas involving hearing, facial muscles, the eyes, and the throat can lose some functionality. However, medical advancements are reducing the risk for these outcomes.
Trust the Experts at Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions
Need help with your hearing? Clarity Hearing can help. Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions is an independently owned and operated clinic that focuses on quality of care and personalized, friendly service to the surrounding areas of Ellicott City, Catonsville, Columbia. Our Doctors of Audiology are highly trained with advanced degrees and take the time to provide the personalized care and attention that you need and deserve. We provide advanced hearing aid options that personally calibrated with cutting-edge digital technology to fit your hearing loss, your unique ear anatomy, and your individual listening needs.
Come in for a walk-in appointment on Tuesdays & Fridays from 10:00 am to 11:30 am or contact us to schedule an appointment by calling 410-698-6594 or visiting our contact page. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn for more blog posts, news, and updates!