A gradual or rapid loss of hearing in one ear may be a sign of an acoustic neuroma, also called a vestibular schwannoma, a benign tumor which presses on the “acoustic nerve.” Other symptoms can include tinnitus or ringing in the ear, as well as dizziness and balance difficulty because the acoustic nerve affects balance. If the tumor is large it may cause facial numbness or weakness. This kind of tumor can cause permanent hearing loss.
Treatment options for acoustic neuromas include observation, radiation, or surgery. Since typically it is a slow-growth tumor, it may be treated using Gamma Knife technology, a non-invasive procedure that focuses radiation directly on the tumor to halt its growth. Another option is to remove part of the tumor using minimally invasive surgery. However, when it is necessary to totally remove the lesion, traditional surgery is recommended.
For more information, visit the Acoustic Neuroma Association at www.anausa.org.