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Acoustic neuroma - Symptoms of an acoustic neuroma

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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A small acoustic neuroma may not cause any symptoms or your symptoms may develop gradually as acoustic neuromas tend to grow slowly.

The growth rate for acoustic neuromas is around 1-2mm every year. However, they may not grow constantly, and there could be long periods when the tumour does not grow at all.  

Symptoms of an acoustic neuroma include:

  • Hearing loss - this is the most common symptom and usually develops gradually in one ear, though in some cases it can develop suddenly.
  • Tinnitus - the perception of noise in one ear or both ears that comes from inside the body rather than from an outside source; for example, you may hear ringing in one ear.
  • Vertigo - the sensation that you or the environment around you is moving or spinning; you may feel the sensation of movement even when you are standing completely still.
  • Facial numbness, tingling or pain, are relatively rare symptoms which can occur if the tumour begins to press on the nerve that controls feeling and sensation in your face (known as the trigeminal nerve).
  • Headaches - this is also a relatively rare symptom, although it can happen if the tumour blocks the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (fluid that surrounds your brain).
  • Temporary sight problems - this is rare and is also caused by a cerebrospinal fluid blockage.
  • Ataxia - a loss of physical coordination that affects your ability to do activities such as walking or writing. When this is caused by an acoustic neuroma it usually only affects one side of the body (the same side as any hearing loss).

Hearing loss and tinnitus are the most common symptoms of acoustic neuroma and they usually only affect one ear. However, if you have acoustic neuroma caused by neurofibromatosis type 2 (a rare inherited condition), both ears may be affected. 

Read more information about causes of acoustic neuroma.

Hearing loss is not necessarily worse for larger tumours.

Medical Review: June 13, 2012
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