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A noncancerous and slow growing tumor that develops on the main nerve that leads to the brain from your inner ear. The branches of this nerve have direct influence on your balance and hearing. The pressure from an acoustic neuroma causes unilateral hearing loss, ringing in the ear and/or loss of balance.

Symptoms of Acoustic Neuroma

The symptoms of acoustic neuroma often take many years to develop but include the following:

  • Gradual hearing loss (usually only on one side)
  • Tinnitus (ringing) in the ear
  • Loss of balance
  • Vertigo
  • Facial numbness

How is Acoustic Neuroma Diagnosed?

The first step in diagnosing acoustic neuroma is a basic ear exam.  Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and concerns. Based on the results of your ear exam your doctor may request the following tests:

Hearing Test:  During this test an audiologist will present a range of sounds directed to one ear at a time.  Each tone is presented at different levels to help determine the severity of hearing loss.

Imaging: An imaging test such as an MRI or CT may be used to help detect the presence of acoustic neuroma.  These tests help determine the size and exact location of a tumor if present.

What Are The Treatment Options?

Treatment options may vary depending on the size of growth of the tumor.  The first option may be to simply monitor the tumor. If your tumor is slow growing (or not growing at all) and symptoms are limited this may be the best option, especially if you are an older adult or prefer to avoid more drastic options such as surgery.   

If the tumor begins to grow at a rapid pace or symptoms worsen treatment may be required.  Your doctor will either recommend to either remove the tumor entirely via surgery or radiation therapy (gamma knife).

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