Can hearing loss be a sign of a brain tumour?

The hearing loss, ringing inside the ear, and dizziness is the most common hearing problems that an individual face. However, an individual should consider these hearing problems as the beginning of the brain tumor that grows in between inner ear and brain.

If a person has a symptom of gradual hearing loss in one ear and hearing loss accompanied by dizziness and tinnitus ( ringing in the ear ) or feeling of fullness in the ear can cause an acoustic neuroma. Acoustic neuroma is a non-cancerous tumor that grows very slowly and causes hearing loss. So yes, hearing loss be a sign of a brain tumor.

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Another name of acoustic neuroma is the vestibulocochlear nerve,  vestibular schwannomas or neurilemmoma. The acoustic neuroma connects the inner ear with the brain. There are two different parts of acoustic neuroma. One part forwards the sound and the other one send balance information from the inner ear to the brain.

Symptoms of the acoustic neuroma are ringing in the ear called tinnitus, sudden loss of hearing and fullness of ear. Surgical treatment is the only way to get rid of it if the tumor is large.

Risk factors

There can be a lot of risk factors for acoustic neuroma. One of the confirmed risk factors is the parent having rare genetic disorder neurofibromatosis type 2. This type of genetic disorder only accounts for only 5% of acoustic neuroma cases.

One of the characteristics of this type of disorder is the developmental of noncancerous tumors on the balance nerves of the head.

Complications:

Some permanent complications can cause due to acoustic neuroma:

  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing inside the ear.
  • Balancing difficulty
  • Weakness and facial numbness.

How Acoustic Neuroma or vestibulocochlear nerve affect hearing

Acoustic neuroma connects the inner ear with the brain. It also has two different parts. One part transmits sounds and the other part helps in sending balance information to the brain from the inner ear. The acoustic neuroma tumor usually arises from a balanced part of the vestibulocochlear nerve. The hearing part of the nerve can also be affected. In this tumor results, audiogram shows poor word recognization and high-frequency hearing loss. This tumor can also cause sudden hearing loss. It affects hearing either by directly affecting the auditory relay centers. It sometimes creates pressure or displaces a certain portion of the brain depending on the size of the brain. If that portion of the brain involves in hearing then the tumor patient may have hearing loss. Therefore hearing loss be a  sign of a brain tumor.

Symptoms

  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Headaches and Confusion
  • Taste changes and facial weakness
  • Clumsiness and Instability
  • Vertigo
  • Loss of balance
  • Ringing in the affected ear

Causes

There can be a number of causes for acoustic neuroma. In a small number of people,  an inherited (genetic) condition called neurofibromatosis type 2. People who are suffering from these diseases called neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) are at higher risk. NF2 can run in families. In this situation, acoustic neuromas usually develop on the hearing nerves on both sides of the head. Factors for cause

  • Constant or continuous exposure to loud noise like loud music, work-related sound.
  • Neck or face radiation can lead to acoustic neuroma many years later.

Acoustic Neuroma Treatments

There are three main courses for the treatment of an acoustic neuroma

  • Observation
  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy

Observation

It is a type of treatment of acoustic neuroma is an observation in this treatment the patients are kept under observation. The acoustic neuroma increases slowly in the patient so it is not mandatory to go for immediate treatment. The doctor can monitor the patient of a tumor with the help of periodic MRI scans and can also go for the other treatments.

Surgery

Surgery treatments which are available are

  • Translabyrinthine: This surgical treatment involves incision making behind the ear and removal of bone behind the ear and some of the middle ear.
  • Sub-occipital: This treatment involves opening the skull near the back of the head by exposing the back of the tumor. This treatment will be helpful in removing tumors of any size and solve the problem of hearing loss
  • Middle fossa: This treatment involves the removal of a small piece of bone above the ear canal to access and remove small tumors confined to the internal auditory canal, the narrow passageway from the brain to the middle and inner ear.
  • Cochleimplantationion: This surgery involves the implantation of the hearing device inside your head to improve your communication skills.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is chosen for some of the cases in acoustic neuromas. State-of-the-art delivery techniques make it possible to transmit high doses of radiation to the tumor while limiting expose and harm to the tissue of surrounding.

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