These benign tumors develop on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. The tumor usually grows slowly and as it grows, it presses against the hearing and balance nerves. At first, you may have no symptoms or mild symptoms. They can include:
- Loss of hearing on one side
- Ringing in ears (tinnitus)
- Dizziness, vertigo and balance problems
- Facial numbness and very rarely, weakness
The tumor can also eventually cause numbness or paralysis of the face. If it grows large enough, it can press against the brain, becoming life-threatening.
Acoustic neuromas can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to those of middle ear problems. Ear exams, hearing tests, and scans can show if you have it.
If the tumor stays small, you may only need to have it checked regularly. If you do need treatment, surgery and radiation are options. If the tumors affect both hearing nerves, it is often because of a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis.