A rare brain tumor affecting both hearing and balance is called an acoustic neuroma or vestibular schwannoma.
An acoustic neuroma is a benign (non-cancerous) tumor that develops on the vestibulocochlear nerve, which is responsible for transmitting sound and balance information from the inner ear to the brain. As the tumor grows, it can cause hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and imbalance. In severe cases, it can also lead to facial weakness or paralysis.
Diagnosis of acoustic neuroma is usually made through a combination of tests, including a hearing test, balance test, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, and sometimes a biopsy.
Treatment options for acoustic neuroma include observation, radiation therapy, and surgery. The type of treatment chosen depends on the size of the tumor, the extent of symptoms, and the patient’s overall health. Observation is often recommended for small tumors that are not causing significant symptoms. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to shrink the tumor and can be delivered externally or internally. Surgery involves removing the tumor and is typically recommended for larger tumors or those causing significant symptoms.
It’s important to keep in mind that acoustic neuroma is a rare condition and that most people with hearing loss or balance problems have other causes. If you have concerns about your hearing or balance, it is important to speak with your doctor for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.
Additional information about acoustic neuroma:
Symptoms: In addition to hearing loss and imbalance, other symptoms of an acoustic neuroma can include dizziness, vertigo (a sensation of spinning), unsteadiness, and problems with coordination. In some cases, the tumor can also cause facial numbness or weakness. Symptoms may develop gradually over time or suddenly.
Risk Factors: The exact cause of acoustic neuromas is not known, but some factors have been associated with an increased risk of developing the condition, including exposure to radiation and certain genetic conditions, such as Neurofibromatosis type 2.
Complications: If left untreated, an acoustic neuroma can continue to grow and press on other parts of the brain, causing additional problems, including headaches, facial weakness, or loss of movement or sensation in the limbs.
Prognosis: With proper treatment, the prognosis for most people with an acoustic neuroma is generally good. In many cases, treatment can halt or slow the growth of the tumor and relieve symptoms. In some cases, hearing or balance function may not return to normal after treatment, but rehabilitation and other supportive measures can often improve function and quality of life.
It’s important to work closely with your healthcare team to find the best treatment plan for you if you have been diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma. They can provide more information about your individual situation and the risks and benefits of different treatment options.