Help and frequently asked questions

What are the signs of an acoustic neuroma?

  • Hearing loss in the affected ear is the most common sign. Most people with an acoustic neuroma lose their hearing on the affected side gradually. As hearing gets worse, it also tends to become distorted. This can result from the pressure of the tumour on the hearing nerve. This pressure can eventually lead to total hearing loss on that side. There may also be a feeling of fullness in the affected ear.
  • The 5% of people who develop acoustic neuroma as part of type II neurofibromatosis usually develop tumours on both auditory nerves (bilateral tumours), so hearing in both ears may be affected. However, for the vast majority of people with acoustic neuroma only one side is affected.
  • Tinnitus is also a common symptom. Tinnitus is the medical term to describe noises that people can hear in one ear, both ears or in the head, including ringing, buzzing or whistling. The sounds can vary from person to person, but the common link is that they do not have an external source. People with an acoustic neuroma commonly report that they can hear odd noises in the ear on the affected side. For some people this may be the main symptom. However, tinnitus is a very common condition and the majority of people with tinnitus do not have an acoustic neuroma.
  • While the tumour is growing, it can lead to balance problems. However, not everyone has these symptoms.
  • As the tumour continues to grow, later symptoms can include headaches and facial numbness.