An acoustic neuroma is a non-cancerous brain tumor that develops on a tiny nerve between the inner ear and brainstem. It is the most common type of brain tumor and affects the eighth cranial nerve. Additionally, there are many symptoms of acoustic neuroma, including tiredness.
What Is the Relationship Between Tiredness and Acoustic Neuroma?
Fatigue is a common symptom of acoustic neuroma — and perhaps it is easy to understand why. An acoustic neuroma compresses the brainstem, and in doing so, disrupts information that travels between different parts of the brain and body. The result: the additional pressure that an acoustic neuroma puts on a person’s brainstem may cause an individual to feel tired.
Let’s not forget about the extra mental and physical efforts that individuals sometimes need to exert to cope with the symptoms of acoustic neuroma, either. In addition to tiredness, common acoustic neuroma symptoms include:
- Headache: An acoustic neuroma headache may be unilateral and radiate to the neck from the top or front of a person’s head.
- Vertigo: Vertigo sometimes occurs in the early stages of an acoustic neuroma; if an acoustic neuroma affects the vestibular nerve, an individual may struggle to maintain his or her balance.
- Hearing Loss: Hearing loss is often the first symptom that acoustic neuroma patients experience; in many acoustic neuroma patients, hearing loss worsens over time.
- Tinnitus: An acoustic neuroma patient may experience ringing, hissing or other sounds in the ear — despite the fact that no external sounds are present.
- Memory Loss: Research indicates that acoustic neuromas sometimes cause memory loss, along with agitation, hallucinations and mood changes.
The aforementioned acoustic neuroma symptoms may make it tough for a person to perform everyday tasks. As such, an individual may be forced to spend more time to complete these tasks, resulting in tiredness.
Do Acoustic Neuroma Symptoms Come and Go?
Tiredness and other acoustic neuroma symptoms may start to appear over the course of several years, and they frequently escalate as a tumor grows. As an acoustic neuroma puts pressure on nerves that control a person’s facial muscles and sensation, an individual may experience new symptoms. In this situation, an individual’s existing acoustic neuroma symptoms may become more severe as well.
Understanding the impact of tiredness and other acoustic neuroma symptoms often helps individuals take steps to cope with these issues. With a proactive approach to address acoustic neuroma symptoms, an individual can limit their impact.
How to Cope with Tiredness and Acoustic Neuroma
Some of the best ways to cope with tiredness and acoustic neuroma include:
- Plan Ahead: Make the most of available time and resources. To do so, plan ahead whenever possible, schedule regular breaks throughout the day and establish priorities.
- Conserve Energy: Use a diary, journal or calendar to identify times when tiredness occurs. Then, an individual can use this information to pinpoint times when he or she can try to conserve energy at different points during the day.
- Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness activities such as meditation, walking or deep breathing allow a person to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and eventually, return to everyday activities with renewed focus and energy.
- Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Regular exercise and a healthy diet can make a world of difference, as it can help an individual maintain the energy he or she needs to minimize the impact of fatigue caused by an acoustic neuroma.
For people who are dealing with acoustic neuromas, it is important to note that long-term treatment options are available as well. By getting an acoustic neuroma diagnosis, an individual can take the first step to treat his or her acoustic neuroma symptoms.
Acoustic Neuroma Diagnosis: What You Need to Know
A doctor typically performs a physical examination to properly diagnose an acoustic neuroma. He or she assesses a patient’s hearing and balance, along with this individual’s reflexes and strength. A doctor also evaluates a patient’s upper and lower extremities and finds out if an individual experiences any sensation in the face.
Blood tests are generally not required as part of an acoustic neuroma diagnosis. Conversely, an auditory brainstem evoked response may be used to screen for an acoustic neuroma. Or, gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging scanning may be used to provide a highly detailed image of the brain that a doctor can use to diagnose an acoustic neuroma.
In certain instances, a computerized tomography (CT) scan is used to detect acoustic neuromas. A CT scan takes about 30 minutes to complete and is a painless procedure.
Furthermore, scanning with contrast may be used to detect medium or large acoustic neuroma tumors. This type of scanning provides a 3D image of the brain and associated structures; like a CT scan, scanning with contrast requires about 30 minutes to perform.
After a doctor identifies an acoustic neuroma, he or she works with a patient to develop a custom treatment plan. This ensures that a patient can get the help that he or she needs to achieve long-term acoustic neuroma symptom relief.
What Acoustic Neuroma Treatment Options Are Available?
Four treatment options are commonly used to treat acoustic neuromas:
1. Conservative Management
Conservative management often involves taking a “wait and see” approach to an acoustic neuroma. For example, if a small acoustic neuroma is not growing or growing slowly and causes no side effects, a doctor usually won’t recommend an aggressive treatment. In this scenario, a doctor may instead recommend a patient undergo periodic testing to evaluate an acoustic neuroma’s growth.
Oftentimes, conservative management involves imaging and hearing tests that are performed every six to 12 months. These tests allow a doctor to monitor the size of an acoustic neuroma and find out how quickly the tumor is growing. If a doctor ultimately discovers that an acoustic neuroma poses a long-term risk to a patient, he or she may then recommend surgery or another treatment.
2. Acoustic Neuroma Removal Surgery
Acoustic neuroma removal surgery involves the permanent removal of a tumor. The goal of the procedure is to eliminate an acoustic neuroma, as well as preserve a patient’s facial nerve.
A typical acoustic neuroma removal procedure is performed under general anesthesia. During the procedure, a doctor removes a patient’s acoustic neuroma via the inner ear or a window in the skull. In some instances, a doctor only removes a portion of an acoustic neuroma; this is done if the tumor is too close to various parts of a patient’s brain or facial nerve.
Although surgery often helps patients address their acoustic neuroma symptoms, there are potential complications associated with surgery, such as:
- Facial numbness and/or weakness
- Ringing in the ear
- Hearing loss
If the facial nerves are damaged during acoustic neuroma removal surgery, a patient’s acoustic neuroma symptoms may worsen following the procedure. Thus, it is important for a patient to understand the risks associated with acoustic neuroma removal surgery before treatment. By working with an expert surgeon, an individual can learn about the benefits and risks of an acoustic neuroma removal procedure. He or she can then work with this surgeon to determine a safe, effective course of action to treat an acoustic neuroma.
3. Gamma-Knife Radiosurgery
Gamma-knife radiosurgery is a form of radiation therapy. It involves the use of intense gamma ray beams used to treat brain tumors.
With gamma-knife radiosurgery, an acoustic neuroma patient’s tumor cells are damaged or destroyed. This ensures the cells cannot reproduce or grow to reduce the size of the tumor.
A gamma-knife radiosurgery procedure involves the use of gamma ray beams emitted from different locations outside of a patient’s head. These beams are focused exclusively on the acoustic neuroma, and they have minimal impact on healthy tissue in the body.
No surgical incisions are required during gamma-knife radiosurgery. Plus, the treatment is customized to a patient to ensure that he or she can achieve the best-possible results.
4. Cochlear Implantation
Acoustic neuroma surgery sometimes requires the removal of the cochlear nerve, which controls hearing. Thanks to cochlear implants, acoustic neuroma patients can preserve or restore hearing after surgery.
During cochlear implantation, a portion of an acoustic neuroma is removed to relieve brain pressure. Next, cochlear implants are inserted to help people restore hearing or prevent them from becoming deaf.
What Is the Best Way to Treat an Acoustic Neuroma?
The best way to treat an acoustic neuroma depends on a patient and his or her tumor. By meeting with Dr. Babak Azizzadeh of The Facial Paralysis Institute, an individual can explore his or her acoustic neuroma treatment options.
Dr. Azizzadeh is a globally recognized facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon with many years of industry experience. He crafts a personalized treatment plan for each of his acoustic neuroma patients. As a result, Dr. Azizzadeh helps his acoustic neuroma patients achieve their desired treatment results.
Schedule an Acoustic Neuroma Treatment Consultation Today
Dr. Azizzadeh is available to meet with an individual to discuss acoustic neuroma treatment options. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh, please call us today at (310) 657-2203.