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Acoustic neuroma is a condition in which a tumor forms on the nerve that links to the ear to the brain. This tumor can be found directly beneath the brain, behind the ear. Although an acoustic neuroma is benign, it may pose serious health threats to the individual. Commonly referred to as an angle tumor, the neuroma can cause permanent hearing loss and damage to other nearby nerves. Since the tumor typically grows at a slow rate, acoustic neuroma symptoms may not be present until later in life or until the tumor has become significantly large.
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Misleading Signs and Symptoms
Common symptoms of this condition are often associated with the sensations and symptoms of an inner ear infection. The hearing loss, vertigo, and ringing of the ear on the affected side tend to be the most prevalent among acoustic neuroma patients. However, there are other acoustic neuroma symptoms that may not be as apparent. Persistent headaches, feelings of dizziness, numbness of the face and/or ear on the affected side, vision problems, and loss of balance may also accompany an angle tumor. This is why some patients may falsely dismiss these signs as an ear infection or mild stroke. While most patients will not suffer symptoms to this degree, these particular symptoms are more likely to occur in those with larger tumors. Although it is very rare, unsteady gait, drooping of the face, and excessive drooling can also occur in some individuals.
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Since the symptoms of an angle tumor are so closely related to other conditions, physicians do not rely on them to diagnose the condition. Despite the fact that acoustic neuroma symptoms are common, the disorder itself is not. This is why further testing to detect the presence of the neuroma may not be ordered until these other conditions are successfully ruled out. Diagnosis for an angle tumor may consist of hearing tests, a CT of the head, and tests associated with equilibrium, vertigo, and functioning of the brain stem. The most utilized and effective method for diagnosing the neuroma is an MRI of the head.
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MedlinePlus. National Institute of Health. 12, June 2009. Viewed 17, December 2009. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000778.htm
John Hopkins University. Acoustic Neuroma: Symptoms. Viewed 17, December 2009. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/otolaryngology/specialty_areas/otology/acoustic_neuroma_symptoms.html