Understanding the 3 Main Symptoms of Acoustic Neuroma

Understanding the 3 Main Symptoms of Acoustic Neuroma

Pamela Bandelaria |Jan 20, 2022

Acoustic Neuroma Symptoms

Have you heard about a condition called acoustic neuroma? You might have heard it mentioned a few times, as it might not be as common as other tumors. In the U.S., around 2,000 to 3,000 people are diagnosed annually. Data shows that it afflicts 1 person per 100,000 per year. Although its incidence is not at an alarming rate, it is worth knowing a thing or two about this condition, as it can bring a lot of discomfort and disability to those who experience it. If you have not heard about acoustic neuroma before, this is the best time to know what it is. This article will explain what acoustic neuroma is, how it occurs and the common acoustic neuroma symptoms.

What is Acoustic Neuroma?

Acoustic neuromas are benign tumors that commonly arise from the vestibular nerve, a part of the eighth cranial nerve, which is responsible for maintaining balance through signals sent to and from the inner ear.

Acoustic neuromas are also called vestibular schwannomas, a term that better describes the tumor as it is due to the tumor’s overproduction of the Schwann cells, accessory cells that produce the protective myelin sheath of nerve cells. These usually occur in the cerebellopontine angle, a small triangle between the cerebellum and lateral pontine area where are a lot of cranial nerves pass, among them the eighth cranial nerve, which is affected in acoustic neuromas. Around 80% to 90% of tumors in this area are schwannomas, with the rest being meningiomas (tumors of the meninges).

The majority of acoustic neuromas are usually unilateral, that is it occurs on one side of the body. Bilateral tumors tend to occur especially in patients with another condition called type 2 neurofibromatosis, which more commonly occurs in children. Acoustic neuromas usually start to occur in patients aged 40 to 60 years old, with bilateral tumors associated with type 2 neurofibromatosis occurring at a younger age (30 years old). There is an equal incidence between males and females.

What Are the Symptoms?

Because of its usual occurrence in the cerebellopontine angle and the involvement of the eighth cranial nerve, the symptoms of acoustic neuroma are associated with the function of the structures in these areas. The vestibular nerve plays a role in balance and position, while the cochlear nerve plays a role in hearing. Naturally, a tumor involving these areas would cause problems with hearing and balance.

1. Hearing Loss

The most common presenting symptom of acoustic neuroma is unilateral hearing loss. This is due to the tumor causing a block in the cochlear nerve or in its blood supply and occurs in 90% of people with acoustic neuroma. Aside from it being the most common presenting symptom, it is also one of the earliest symptoms of the condition. It is sometimes not detected immediately and can be dismissed in the early stages. It can even be undetected for years.

However, once it occurs, it can worsen as time passes. Because acoustic neuromas are usually unilateral in nature, the hearing loss is also unilateral, but it can also be bilateral in some cases. The hearing loss can also be accompanied by a sensation of ear fullness, which people can describe as having pressure or the sense of having water inside the ear.

2. Tinnitus

Another common symptom is tinnitus, wherein a certain noise is heard in the ears. The noise heard is usually a ringing, buzzing, or whistling sound. In acoustic neuromas, this is usually an intermittent, high-pitched sound due to the tumor. If the tumor is removed, tinnitus usually disappears in around 30% to 60% of cases. However, in a small group of individuals, tinnitus remains and may sometimes get worse even after the tumor is removed.

3. Balance Changes

Other common symptoms of acoustic neuromas are loss of balance, dizziness, or vertigo. This is because the vestibular nerve is affected, which plays a role in balance. This can occur in up to 50% of affected patients and worsens as the tumor grows. If the tumor grows big enough, it can compress the brainstem and cause problems in gait with the person falling on the side of the tumor. Dizziness or vertigo, which is a spinning sensation, can also be experienced once the tumor is large enough.

The following are other symptoms of acoustic neuromas:

  • Facial numbness.
  • Headaches.
  • Loss of facial muscle movement.
  • Facial twitching.
  • Problems swallowing.
  • Changes in sense of taste.
  • Dry eyes or excessive tearing.

It can sometimes be hard to diagnose acoustic neuromas immediately because symptoms such as hearing loss, dizziness, or tinnitus can also be caused by common ear problems. Moreover, these are symptoms where some people will not get a consult immediately, which can further cause a delay in the diagnosis.

Fortunately, acoustic neuromas are benign tumors and patients generally have a good response to treatment. Complications are also not common and are minimal.

Although symptoms may persist, in most cases they disappear. Tumors also rarely reoccur. However, prompt diagnosis and management are important, as acoustic neuroma can still worsen and be fatal if it is left untreated due to an increase in tumor growth, which can compress brain structures and lead to fluid buildup in the brain. This is why the evaluation by a trained professional is important. Acoustic neuromas are not a cause of worry once you know the signs and symptoms and get checked early.

Article Resources

Our Most Valuable advice

3 Lung Cancer Treatments

Staff Writer | January 20, 2022

Pathways to Healing Lung cancer starts in the lungs but can spread to other regions of the body. While there is no single cure, there are different treatment options that can be used. In this article, we will look at treatment options, as well as symptoms of lung cancer Roughly 1 in 16 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer. While smoking can increase the likelihood of getting a diagnosis, non-smokers are not exempt from this condition. There are many different causes of lung cancer, and people of all ages can be diagnosed. Unfortunately, there is no specific cure for lung cancer. Beating cancer is a little more complicated than taking a few pills or going to a doctor’s office. The disease is more serious and requires more intense intervention techniques. Different Lung Cancer Treatment Options Depending on the progression of the cancer and the patient's general health, a physician may recommend several treatment options. Know that with all treatment options, there is a risk of harsh side effects and a chance that the treatment does not work. Still, these are the best options when it comes to defeating lung cancer, with increased chances of success in cases of early detection. Treatments can be used in combination with one another, or as a standalone option depending on the particular case. Chemotherapy Chemotherapy has been one of the most common treatment options for a long time. It works by using strong chemicals that target rapidly dividing cells. When introduced into your body, chemotherapy drugs will attack all rapidly dividing cells. Unfortunately, these drugs cannot differentiate between cancer cells and healthy cells that just happen to be dividing. The side effects of such treatments can be unpleasant, but most reverse when the treatment ends or can be reduced during the treatment. Common side effects include: Nausea/vomiting. Hair loss. Mouth sores. Pain. Bowel disturbances (diarrhea/ constipation). Loss of appetite. Bruising easily. [youmaylike] Harsher and potentially permanent side effects include: Organ damage (heart, lung, kidneys). Nerve damage. Infertility. Heightened risk of a second cancer. Side effects will also vary depending on the type of drug that is used in your treatment and the way you “take in” the drug. The most common chemotherapy drugs for lung cancer include the following: Afatinib. Bevacizumab. Ceritinib. Crizotinib. Erlotinib. Chemotherapy for lung cancer can be done in the following ways: Injected: Most often this is administered through infusions (IV) but can be given through shots. Implanted: Thin wafers containing the drug can be inserted directly into the site of a tumor or surgery. Pills: Pills and capsules containing the drug are sometimes available. Radiation Radiation is another treatment method. Radiation therapy uses beams of energy to damage cells in targeted regions of the body. The intense energy beams aim at precise locations in the body and damage the cells in that region. While this, unfortunately, means that healthy cells will also be attacked, they are often able to “bounce back” from the damage where cancer cells will be killed. As it is a targeted treatment, side effects are often limited to the region in which the treatment was applied. This means that patients can expect skin problems in the area of application as well as fatigue; these are mostly short-term side effects. Specific side effects characterized by treatments aimed at the chest include: Breast soreness. Stiff shoulders. Difficulties swallowing. Respiratory problems. Radiation fibrosis (permanent lung scarring). There is a low chance of developing long-term side effects, such as the development of a second cancer, as an effect of radiation exposure. Surgery If the cancer is caught early enough, then it can be treated by removing the cancerous tissue at the initial site. The operation can only be successful if the cancer has not yet spread to other regions of the body. The side effects of this treatment will depend on the depth of the removal, the nature of the removed tissue, and its size. For example, removing a tiny bit of the lung will not be as hard to recover from as removing a large piece. Other Lung Cancer Treatment Options Other treatments are being developed that aim to keep the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation treatments without the harsh side effects. While some remain experimental, recently emerging treatments, such as immunotherapy, offer the potential to battle lung cancer. Talk to a licensed care physician to get the most valuable recommendations on which cancer treatment is right for you. Everybody has a different experience and treatments are decided on a case-by-case basis.

What Are the Early Symptoms of Colon Cancer?

Staff Writer | January 20, 2022

Early Detection Saves Lives Before you can fully understand early symptoms of colon cancer, it is important to understand where exactly it occurs within your body. A colon refers to the final part of the digestive system; specifically, it is part of the large intestine. The purpose of a colon is to help prepare your digested foods for excretion. It stores your waste as it waits to vacate your body and plays a very minor part in extracting nutrients in the final stages of digestion. What is Colon Cancer? As the name suggests, colon cancer is a cancer that starts in the colon. Cancer occurs when cells, instead of replicating at a regular rate, begin to divide rapidly, causing tumors to form, and disrupting healthy bodily functions. As cancers progress, the growing cells can travel to other regions of the body. [youmaylike] What are Polyps? Polyps are growths that can grow within the colon. Having polyp growth does not mean you will get colon cancer. While not all polyps are cancerous, almost all malignant tumors in the colon start as polyps. Upon examination, your doctor will be able to give you more information on what your options are. Generally, a physician will perform a colonoscopy to remove it. Once removed, a pathologist can examine the tissue to determine whether or not the sample is dangerous and if further actions need to be taken. Symptoms of Polyps Polyps are not something you can see. To know something is not quite right, you will have to monitor your regular bodily functions. The most commonly reported symptoms related to polyp formation are: Rectal bleeding: If you notice that your rectum is bleeding, this could be due to polyp formation. It is important to recognize that this is also a common symptom of other problems such as hemorrhoids or anal tears. If it happens persistently, you should consider visiting your doctor for an internal examination. Abdominal pain: When polyps are rather big, they can obstruct the bowel. In doing so, it can cause problems that manifest as cramps or other abdominal pain. Irregular-colored stools: Even if you cannot notice it directly, rectal bleeding can influence the color of the stool. You may notice some small red stripes in mild cases. In more serious cases, heavy bleeding may cause your poop to appear black. Before you start to worry, make sure these color changes are not simply due to a change in diet, medication, or supplement use. Anemia: If polyps continue to bleed for a prolonged time, they may cause the development of an iron deficiency. Anemia can manifest in several ways, including fatigue, shortness of breath, feeling dizzy, fainting, or having abnormally pale skin. Common Early Symptoms of Colon Cancer Polyps themselves are, again, not a direct indication of colon cancer. While cancer can develop from a polyp, there are other symptoms which separate the benign and malignant development. Symptoms of colon cancer are different for everyone, but the most commonly reported signs are: Changes in bowel movements: Particularly, you want to pay attention to the consistency of your stools. If it looks different or you develop constipation or diarrhea for an extended time, talk to your doctor. Rectal bleeding: You might pass bloody stools. Abdominal pain: Any type of discomfort, such as cramps or gas, should be monitored. Fatigue: Feeling weak or consistently tired despite adequate rest can be a sign of many medical problems. Weight loss: Unexplained weight loss may be a sign of a lack of nutrition due to a malfunctioning digestive tract. Essentially, if your intestines are not able to properly absorb nutrients from food, you will not get enough nutrition from the food you eat. The “feeling” of a full bowel: Sometimes, even after passing a bowel movement to the highest extent possible, some patients report feeling like their bowel is not “empty”. While this is a normal sensation to experience from time to time, it can be a sign of an underlying colon problem. When to See a Doctor If you notice any of these symptoms mentioned above consistently, you should schedule an appointment with a licensed physician. Even if your abnormalities are not cancerous, they can be a sign of another serious medical condition that should be addressed. The earlier you recognize a problem, the better chance you have of getting access to effective medical intervention.

Understanding the Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Staff Writer | January 20, 2022

Awareness Saves Lives Lung cancer occurs when cancerous cells form in the lungs. Like other cancers, as the disease develops, tumors are formed. As the disease progresses, it has the potential to spread to other regions of the body. Lung cancer is an umbrella term referring to several different cancers in the lung, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLCs start in lung tissue. It is comprised of three specific diseases: adenocarcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and large cell carcinomas. SCLCs are a rarer form, originating in the bronchi. They are similar in symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and risk factors. SCLCs tend to be more aggressive than NSCLCs. When cancer is more “aggressive”, it means that the growth of the cancer cells is more rapid. Rapid progression of cancer means that tumors grow faster and spread to other parts of the body more quickly, meaning the time window for “effective” treatment is smaller and the prognosis is poorer than non-aggressive cancers. Getting a Diagnosis Anyone can get lung cancer. This is no population of people that have absolute immunity from the disease. That being said, certain groups of people are more likely to contract lung cancer than others. [youmaylike] Generally, lung cancer is found in older people over the age of 65. Some lifestyle choices, such as smoking tobacco, can increase the risk of getting a diagnosis. Remember, just are there are no populations that are immune to developing cancer, but there are plenty of “at-risk” individuals who will never develop it. This does not mean you should ignore warnings over certain activities, such as smoking, just because you can think of someone who was an exception to the rule. Early Signs of Lung Cancer When it comes to cancer, one of the most important things you can do is get an early diagnosis. Early detection will put you in a better position in terms of treatment. Catching the disease before it gets the chance to travel to other parts of the body will make it easier to treat. If it does not spread, physicians can concentrate treatment techniques on specific areas, which can drastically increase your chances of beating it. The main problem that makes cancer so deadly is that you often do not notice until it is too late. Oftentimes, the early signs of disease are easy to overlook. Unfortunately, lung cancer normally does not cause any noticeable symptoms until later on. If you are demographically vulnerable to developing lung cancer, consider paying special attention to these early warning signs: Chronic cough, with no apparent cause. Coughing up blood; you may notice spotting on tissues. Chest, back, or shoulder pain, especially when you take deep breaths or laugh. Inappropriate shortness of breath, which may happen when doing non-strenuous, daily activities that should not cause any breathing problems. Weight and appetite loss, with no apparent cause. Fatigue or feelings of weakness with no known cause. Hoarseness, or having a raspy voice, can be a sign of respiratory problems. Wheezing, even during regular breathing. Chronic bronchitis or pneumonia. Any persistent respiratory infection should be brought to the attention of your physician. As lung cancer advances, the severity of symptoms will worsen for most patients. Advanced Symptoms of Lung Cancer In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, other signs of cancer may manifest after the disease has had time to progress. These symptoms will arise in response to the fact that the disease has entered other parts of the body. How you experience these symptoms will depend heavily on where the cancer spreads to. Bone pain: Can occur anywhere in the body but likely in the hip or the back. Jaundice: The yellowing of skin and eyes is a sign the liver has been disrupted by something. Disturbances to the nervous system: When cancer spreads to the brain, it can cause many different symptoms. These symptoms can include things such as persistent headaches, fatigue, numbness, lightheadedness, seizures, and sudden problems with balancing. When to See a Doctor You should always discuss any major changes in your bodily functions with your doctor. It is impossible to know whether or not something is cancerous until you undergo a medical examination. More than likely, these symptoms are not cancer. This does not mean that you should ignore them. Even if a collection of symptoms is not cancer, it can be a sign of another medical condition. As early intervention is essential for dealing with any cancer, it is important to talk to your doctor as soon as you notice these problems when they become persistent and occur with no explanation.