Acoustic Neuroma and Hearing Loss

Acoustic Neuroma

Acoustic neuroma is benign tumour (noncancerous growth) which develops on the eighth cranial nerve. It is not cancerous and so is called a benign tumour.

8th Cranial Nerve (where acoustic neuroma develops)
Fig 1: 8th Cranial (Auditory Vestibulor) Nerve
Development of acoustic neuroma starts from the lining of the main nerve which connects the inner ear to brain, this nerve is called the acoustic or hearing nerve. It controls your hearing and balance. Alongside it runs the facial nerve. Although acoustic neuromas are a type of brain tumour, they don’t spread into (invade) the brain. But if a tumour grows large enough it can interfere with important functions of the brain.

Acoustic neuroma is also known as vestibular schwannoma due to the fact that it starts in schwann cells (schwann cells covers eighth cranial nerve). They are most likely to be found in people in their 40s to 60s.

The Ear, Hearing and Acoustic Neuroma

Acoustic Neuroma (Tumor growth) in 8th Cranial (Auditory Vestibulor) Nerve
Fig 2: Fully Developed Acoustic Neuroma
* Hearing loss: Most people with acoustic neuroma suffers with some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss associated with acoustic neuroma is usually gradual and it affects only one ear. Hearing loss caused due to acoustic neuroma (damage in acoustic nerve) is defined as sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). * Tinnitus: This is the medical name for ringing in the ears, the sounds can vary; it does not have to be ringing like a bell. About 70% people with an acoustic neuroma suffer with tinnitus in one ear. Tinnitus can be described as any sounds heard within the ear when there no external sound is present. Tinnitus is a common symptom and not a disease in itself. Other causes of tinnitus include earwax, ear infections, ageing and noise-induced hearing loss.

Prevention

Early diagnosis of Acoustic Neuroma is key to preventing its serious consequences. There are three options for managing Acoustic Neuroma:

  1. Surgical removal
  2. Radiation
  3. Observation