Finding Answers to Your Questions
Learning you have a brain tumor, or even considering the possibility, can be an emotional process. You probably have many questions running through your mind right now. Whether you already know you have an acoustic neuroma or are still awaiting a diagnosis, having answers to these questions can help reduce some of the stress you may be feeling. Some common questions are:
- What is acoustic neuroma?
- What are acoustic neuroma symptoms?
- How is acoustic neuroma diagnosed?
These are answered below and should provide you with some peace of mind. If you find you still have questions, you can continue the discussion with your personal doctor. Taking the extra time to educate yourself and make sure your questions are answered will help you rest easy as you move through the diagnosis and treatment process.
What is Acoustic Neuroma?
An acoustic neuroma is a benign brain tumor that arises from the vestibulocochlear nerve. You have one of these nerves on each side of the brain, and they are responsible for relaying information about hearing and balance. They develop from Schwann cells, which is why these tumors are also called vestibular schwannomas.
Acoustic neuromas typically grow very slowly. This is why they are usually diagnosed in adult patients, ranging in age from 30 to 60. They are most commonly on only one side of the body. However, patients with a rare inherited condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 2 may have tumors on each side of the brain.
It is important to understand that just because an acoustic neuroma is benign, that does not mean it is harmless. Any benign tumor can grow large enough to impinge on adjacent structures, leading to symptoms. Some patients will never experience symptoms or require treatment, but many do. This variability is one reason it is important to find an acoustic neuroma specialist in the NJ area who can help manage your case.
What are Acoustic Neuroma Symptoms?
Not all patients experience acoustic neuroma symptoms. If you do experience symptoms, they will depend on the size of your tumor and where it is located on the vestibulocochlear nerve. Some symptoms are related to hearing and balance, while others can be due to pressure on other nerves or areas of the brain. An acoustic neuroma can even block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (hydrocephalus), leading to issues. Common symptoms include:
- Hearing loss or ringing in one ear only
- Difficulty with balance, including coordination while walking
- Vertigo and dizziness
- Weakness or paralysis on one side of the face
- Vision problems
- Nausea and vomiting
The hearing loss that occurs with an acoustic neuroma is often the first symptom. However, this hearing loss is typically on only one side of the brain and occurs slowly over time. Despite this, some patients may experience sudden, acute hearing loss rather than a gradual loss. Some patients may never have affected hearing. Again, much depends on the size and location of your specific tumor, which is why you will want to work with an NJ specialist who has extensive experience in treating acoustic neuromas.
How is Acoustic Neuroma Diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects you have an acoustic neuroma, he or she will examine your ears and perform some tests to assess your hearing. Next, you will need to undergo diagnostic imaging, such as a computed tomography scan (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This will give your doctor an image of your tumor, including its size and location. This information will allow your doctor to determine whether you have an acoustic neuroma.
Continue the Learning Process
Whether you have been recently diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma or are still awaiting answers, taking time to educate yourself is a good move. Stress can have many negative effects, and self-education is a powerful way to counteract some of the anxiety you may be feeling. You’ve already taken important steps toward peace of mind by learning more about your condition today. Continue learning about your acoustic neuroma and the treatment options available in northern NJ, and this will give you confidence as you move forward.
If you find you still have questions about acoustic neuromas, be sure to bring them up with your doctor at your next appointment. You may even want to keep a list so you can keep track and have them all answered. Your doctor will be happy to spend time answering these questions and addressing any concerns you may have. It is important you are comfortable with what is happening before, during and after treatment. This will help you rest easy and focus your attention on your health, rather than worrisome questions. The more you can relax during this time, the better your mind and body will feel.