What is an Acoustic Neuroma?
Generally speaking, when someone hears the phrase “tumor” or “growth” their thoughts begin to spiral towards a negative direction. The term itself can be quite shocking and truthfully, extremely frightening.
Finding out whether or not the growth is benign (non-cancerous) can quickly become a life changing countdown that leaves many stressed and overwhelmed with anxiety and the constant wonder of “what if.”
A rare diagnosis in this form is that of an acoustic neuroma.
An acoustic neuroma, which can also be called a vestibular schwannoma, is a benign slow-growing growth (or tumor) that forms on the acoustic nerve (vestibulocochlear nerve). This nerve greatly helps control hearing and balance; it also forms alongside the facial nerve as well, which directs information from the brain to the face muscles.
Due to the exact location of the tumor, an acoustic neuroma can cause hearing loss and negative effects on one’s balance in cases where the tumor itself is smaller in size, usually associated with vertigo- the sensation that one is spinning. A large acoustic neuroma on the other hand, can cause multiple symptoms ranging from headaches, blurred vision, muscle weakness, numbness and/or pain on a particular side of the face, etc. Symptoms will vary on the patient and the severity of the growth. Usually an acoustic neuroma is slow-growing, but again, all patients and their symptoms will differ.
Acoustic neuromas are usually more common among women as opposed to men; reason for this factor is still unclear. Individuals ranging 40 to 60 years of age are
usually most affected with an acoustic neuroma and children are not commonly association with this condition.
It is important to ensure that one doesn’t panic or over obsess about whether or not they have or will have a brain tumor. All forms of brain tumors are considered relatively rare and about 20 people out of every million in the entire population are diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma. With that being said, it is imperative to be fully tested to ensure an accurate diagnosis. If one who has been diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma does in fact find themselves overwhelmed, there are numerous groups and organizations that can help relieve some of the worry and stress associated with such a diagnosis.