So when you feel a clogging in your ear – akin to post swim water logging – which doesn’t go away, see your doctor immediately.It could be Acoustic Neuroma, also known as a Vestibular Schwannoma, which though benign and slow growing, can exert pressure on the nerve and affect hearing.

WHAT IS ACOUSTIC NEUROMA

Acoustic Neuroma is a benign non-cancerous growth that takes place in the eighth cranial nerve. Also called as vestibular schwannoma, it is a slow-growing tumour that develops on the nerve leading from inner ear to the brain. A tumour then presses on the hearing and balance nerves in the inner ear which can lead to complications like hearing loss, ringing sensation in the ear and unsteadiness.

The tumour develops due to the excessive production of Schwann cells which wrap around and support nerve fibres.

SYMPTOMS

Since Acoustic Neuroma grows at a slow pace, it takes many years for the symptoms to manifest. Following are the most common symptoms patients suffering from Acoustic Neuroma:

  • Hearing Loss in one or both of the ears
  • Tinnitus, a ringing sound in the affected ear
  • Dizziness
  • Unsteadiness / Loss of balance
  • Vertigo
  • Recurring headaches
  • Facial numbness

CAUSES

There is still no evidence which can point out the exact cause of Acoustic Neuroma. However, the following factors are known to cause Acoustic Neuroma in most cases.

  • Age: Most of the affected patients develop a benign tumour between the ages of 30 and 60 years
  • The family history of Neurofibromatosis type 2: Nearly 5 percent of the total patients are reported to have a family history of Neurofibromatosis type 2
  • Radiation exposure: There is a remote possibility that low-dose radiation exposure to the head and neck during childhood can result in Acoustic Neuroma

TREATMENT

Doctors take factors like patient’s age and general health, and the location and size of the tumour into consideration before choosing the mode of treatment.

  • Monitoring the tumour: Small tumours can be managed and monitored with the help of regular MRI scans
  • Brain surgery: If the tumour grows rapidly, doctors will opt for brain surgery to remove it through a cut in the skull
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery: If there are traces of small tumours or pieces of a large tumour, that remain after surgery, its growth is controlled by the use of a precise beam of radiation