An acoustic neuroma is a benign growth along the vestibular or cochlear nerves that run from the inner ear to the brain. The tumor can cause a number of different symptoms that can range in severity from patient to patient. The most common acoustic neuroma symptoms include a ringing sensation in the ear called tinnitus, vertigo, and mild to severe hearing loss. People with large neuromas may also experience headaches, ear pain, and balance and vision problems. It is important to visit a doctor when acoustic neuroma symptoms arise to receive an accurate diagnosis and learn about treatment solutions.
Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent acoustic neuroma symptoms, affecting almost all people who have the condition. The problem is usually mild, perhaps causing confusion during telephone conversations or trouble hearing television shows at low volumes. Hearing loss tends to worsen gradually over several months or years as a tumor grows and puts pressure on different structures in the auditory canal.
Tinnitus is a very common problem that can be associated with many different health problems, including acoustic neuroma. A person with tinnitus perceives a constant or fluctuating noise in his or her ear that is often described as ringing, hissing, or roaring. The pitch and volume of the tone can vary, and it can become an incredibly annoying nuisance. Many people with chronic tinnitus also experience frequent headaches or migraines.
The nerves of the inner ear not only aid in perceiving sound, but they also contribute to a person's sense of balance and stability; thus, dizziness and trouble walking in a straight line may be acoustic neuroma symptoms. Some people also develop vertigo, a sensation that their surroundings are constantly spinning, moving, or tilting. An extreme episode of vertigo can be debilitating, and a person may become nauseous, lightheaded, and weak.
A large acoustic neuroma can compress facial nerves and cause additional symptoms. An individual may have muscle spasms, numbness, or tingling along one side of his or her face. The eye on the affected side also may start producing excess tears or become very dry if certain areas of a nerve are impeded. Rarely, an acoustic neuroma can also cause a person to have a diminished sense of taste.
Acoustic neuroma symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible to provide the best chances of recovery. With medications or surgery, many people are able to fully overcome most of their symptoms. Hearing loss can become permanent, however, if major damage has already been done to the inner ear.