SAN DIEGO, Calif. – As we age, it’s easy to dismiss certain symptoms as typical signs of getting older. However, for some individuals, these seemingly innocuous signs could be indicative of something much more serious. Acoustic neuromas, though rare, can have life-changing and potentially life-threatening consequences.
Julie Sifford and her daughter Eliza share a special bond, doing everything together. However, when Julie began experiencing dizziness and lightheadedness, their activities became more challenging. The ringing in her ears, known as tinnitus, had been gradually increasing over time, along with some hearing loss. Initially, Julie attributed these changes to normal aging.
Subsequent medical investigation, including an MRI, revealed that Julie had an acoustic neuroma—a small, non-cancerous tumor roughly the size of a raisin. This tumor was exerting pressure on the primary nerve that connects Julie’s ear to her brain. Dr. Rick Friedman, a Neurotologist and Professor at UC San Diego Health Acoustic Neuroma Program, likens the effect of this tumor to an uncontrolled growth that damages hearing and, if left untreated, can even compress the brainstem.
Removing these tumors necessitates the expertise of specialists like Dr. Friedman and neurosurgeon Dr. Mark Schwartz. Their paramount objective is to remove the tumor while preserving hearing and avoiding damage to any facial nerves. In Julie’s case, she was relieved to discover that her hearing had been preserved. Although she won’t regain what she had lost, she feels fortunate that her condition won’t deteriorate further. Not only is her balance improving, but she is also eagerly anticipating the upcoming soccer season.
Acoustic neuromas occur due to the overproduction of Schwann cells in the nervous system. Depending on the tumor’s size, patients have three options: monitoring for growth, radiation, or surgery. Surgical removal is the only guaranteed option to prevent further hearing loss.
In conclusion, when experiencing symptoms such as hearing loss, unexplained dizziness, or ringing in the ears, it is vital not to dismiss them as merely a natural part of aging. Seeking medical attention and early intervention can make a significant difference in preserving one’s quality of life. Stay proactive and attentive to your health, and don’t let these symptoms go unnoticed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Acoustic Neuromas
Q: What are acoustic neuromas?
A: Acoustic neuromas are small, non-cancerous tumors that develop from an overproduction of Schwann cells in the nervous system. They typically grow on the primary nerve that connects the ear to the brain.
Q: What are the symptoms of acoustic neuromas?
A: Symptoms of acoustic neuromas can include hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), unexplained dizziness, and lightheadedness.
Q: How are acoustic neuromas diagnosed?
A: Medical investigation, including an MRI, is usually required to diagnose an acoustic neuroma.
Q: What are the potential consequences of untreated acoustic neuromas?
A: Acoustic neuromas can exert pressure on the nerve and damage hearing. If left untreated, they can even compress the brainstem, which can be potentially life-threatening.
Q: How are acoustic neuromas treated?
A: Treatment options for acoustic neuromas include monitoring for growth, radiation therapy, and surgical removal. Surgical removal is often the only guaranteed option to prevent further hearing loss.
Q: Who are the specialists involved in treating acoustic neuromas?
A: Specialists involved in treating acoustic neuromas may include Neurotologists and neurosurgeons who have expertise in this area.
Q: Can surgical removal of acoustic neuromas preserve hearing?
A: The objective of surgery is to remove the tumor while preserving hearing and avoiding damage to facial nerves. However, the extent of hearing preservation may vary depending on the individual case.
Q: How important is early intervention when it comes to acoustic neuromas?
A: Early medical attention and intervention can make a significant difference in preserving one’s quality of life when experiencing symptoms of acoustic neuromas. It is essential not to dismiss these symptoms as a natural part of aging and to seek medical attention promptly.
– UC San Diego: The official website of UC San Diego Health, where Dr. Rick Friedman is a Professor at the Acoustic Neuroma Program.
– UC San Diego Schools and Divisions: An overview of the schools and divisions of UC San Diego, which house various medical programs and departments.
– UC San Diego About: Learn more about UC San Diego’s mission, vision, and values.
– UC San Diego Contact: Find contact information for UC San Diego Health or other departments for further assistance.