An acoustic neuroma
is a benign, usually slow-growing tumor. Although benign (meaning not cancerous), because of its location, an acoustic neuroma
can produce serious symptoms or even death by compression of important structures, including the cranial nerves and the brainstem.
Early Symptoms of Acoustic Neuroma
As the acoustic neuroma grows, it presses against the nerves associated with hearing and balance. This results in early symptoms, such as:
- One-sided or high-tone hearing loss
- Distorted sound perception (such as difficulty in using the telephone or perceiving instruments to be "off key" in one ear)
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
- Loss of balance.
Unfortunately, early detection of an acoustic neuroma is sometimes difficult because the symptoms may be subtle and may not appear in the beginning stages of growth. Also, hearing loss, dizziness, and tinnitus are common symptoms of many middle and inner ear problems.
As the tumor grows, other acoustic neuroma symptoms may develop. The acoustic neuroma can interfere with the nerve associated with sensation in the face (the trigeminal nerve), causing facial numbness. An acoustic neuroma can also press on the facial nerve (for the muscles of the face) causing facial weakness or paralysis on the side of the tumor.