Symptoms of Vestibular Schwannoma
Symptoms of vestibular schwannoma may begin with such things as distorted sound perception, loss of balance, and one-sided hearing loss. As the tumor grows, it may also result in facial weakness or facial paralysis. More serious symptoms of vestibular schwannoma may develop when the tumor grows larger and eventually presses against nearby brain structures. These late symptoms of vestibular schwannoma may include headache, nausea, and breathing problems. A vestibular schwannoma can be life threatening.
A vestibular schwannoma is a benign, usually slow-growing tumor. Although the tumor itself is benign (meaning not cancerous), because of its location the symptoms of vestibular schwannoma can be very serious, resulting in compression of important structures, including the cranial nerves and the brainstem which, in some cases, may even lead to loss of life.
As the vestibular schwannoma grows, it presses against the nerves associated with hearing and balance. This results in early symptoms of vestibular schwannoma, such as:
- One-sided or high-tone hearing loss
- Distorted sound perception (such as difficulty in using the telephone or perceiving instruments to be "off key" in one ear)
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
- Loss of balance.
These early vestibular schwannoma symptoms can be subtle and may not appear in the beginning stages of tumor growth, making early detection of such a tumor difficult. Also, hearing loss, dizziness, and tinnitus are common symptoms of many middle and inner ear problems.
As the tumor grows, other vestibular schwannoma symptoms may develop. The vestibular schwannoma can interfere with the nerve associated with sensation in the face (the trigeminal nerve), causing facial numbness. A vestibular schwannoma can also press on the facial nerve (for the muscles of the face) causing facial weakness or paralysis on the side of the face affected by the tumor.