Most people are aware that hearing loss can come from the effects of aging, as well as exposure to loud noise, but they may not have a full understanding of hearing loss. However, while uncommon, certain non-cancerous tumors are also able to damage a person’s hearing. They can result in a gradual loss of hearing as well as tinnitus, and can happen in irregular and sporadic occurrences.
This type of hearing loss is scary and unpredictable, but fortunately, there are many possible treatments for these tumors. These tumors are called acoustic neuromas, and form on the schwann cells surrounding your auditory and sensory nerves. There are two ways this type of hearing loss is treated- surgery, or radiation. Surgery should be done by an advanced team usually including a specialist in ear surgery as well as a neurosurgeon. This surgery is meant to stop the spread of tumors and prevent any more damage to the auditory nerves. It will not necessarily improve the patient’s hearing, however.
Radiation is a newer type of treatment for acoustic neuromas, but therefore may not be as effective or have as much research. Techniques involving a gamma knife, proton beam, and other modern advancements are involved in radiation, and it is crucial to discuss with a specialist before making any decisions on how you want to go about removing neuromas.
Most cases of acoustic neuromas occur irregularly, but in some rare instances, they are brought about by type 2 neurofibromatosis. It is very uncommon for a person to have this disorder, but those who do have almost a 95 percent chance of developing tumors that could cause hearing loss. If you have this disorder, or know of family history with this disorder, you should immediately consult your doctor, or a specialist, about looking for and removing any possible tumors. And if you don’t have neurofibromatosis, but you have begun to experience unprecedented symptoms of hearing loss, it is in your best interest to see an audiologist immediately (see BC hearing test), to prevent the further spread of acoustic neuromas, and improve your hearing.