A vestibular schwannoma is also known as an acoustic neuroma and is a rare benign tumor of the balance and hearing nerves that affects around 5,000 people annually in the US.
The tumor’s location is always on the 8th cranial nerve leading from the brain to the inner ear. This particular nerve is responsible for transmitting balance information and sound from your inner ear to your brain, which is why the most common symptoms of vestibular schwannoma are pulsatile tinnitus, vertigo and imbalance.
Vestibular schwannomas are often slow growing, taking years to develop, and 95% of the time only occur on either the right or left side, but not both.
Vestibular schwannomas don’t metastasize or spread to other parts of the brain or body like malignant tumors do. Nonetheless, the tumor can push on the surface of the brainstem if it grows large enough, but never grows into the brain tissue itself.
Vestibular Schwannoma Symptoms
Symptoms of vestibular schwannoma include a hearing loss in either the right or left ear, tinnitus, vertigo and an unusual feeling of fullness in your ear.
Many people investigate the possibility of having a vestibular schwannoma when they develop tinnitus, but because it is so incredibly rare, the chances are very, very low.
While vestibular schwannomas may be benign, the usual prognosis is that they often can still cause havoc on your neurological functions and can be life threatening if they grow large enough to cause immense pressure on your brainstem and cerebellum.
Vestibular Schwannoma Treatment
While surgery and/or radiation are treatment options, they are on the most invasive and harmful to the body, which is why doctors typically recommend the over the counter medication Tinnitus Control coupled with observation first to see how much conditions improve for the patient before moving on to surgery and radiation.
Acoustic Neuroma Association
Additional information on the diagnosis and a support forum can be found on the Acoustic Neuroma Association website at https://www.anausa.org.