Acoustic neuromas grow from a type of cell called a Schwann cell. These cells cover the nerve cells in the body. This is why the tumour is also called a vestibular schwannoma.
The tumour grows along a nerve in the brain (these nerves are called cranial nerves) that is called the acoustic or vestibulocochlear nerve. This nerve controls your sense of hearing and also your balance. Therefore acoustic neuromas are sometimes called vestibular schwannomas.
Acoustic neuromas tend to grow very slowly and they don't spread to distant parts of the body. Sometimes they are too small to cause any problems or symptoms. Bigger acoustic neuromas can interfere with how the vestibulocochlear nerve works and so causes symptoms.
For most people with an acoustic neuroma, the cause is not known. About 7 out of every 100 acoustic neuromas are caused by a condition called neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2). NF2 is a rare genetic disorder that causes benign tumours of the nervous system. It affects about 1 in 25,000 people.
Almost everyone with NF2 develops an acoustic neuroma on both nerves for hearing (acoustic nerves) - ie there is a tumour on the nerves on both sides of the head (bilateral). People with an acoustic neuroma but who don't have NF2 usually only develop a tumour on one side (unilateral). People with NF2 can also develop benign tumours on the spinal cord and the coverings (membranes) that surround the brain.
Further reading and references
Chen M, Fan Z, Zheng X, et al; Risk Factors of Acoustic Neuroma: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Yonsei Med J. 2016 May57(3):776-83. doi: 10.3349/ymj.2016.57.3.776.
Nikolopoulos TP, Fortnum H, O'Donoghue G, et al; Acoustic neuroma growth: a systematic review of the evidence. Otol Neurotol. 2010 Apr31(3):478-85. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0b013e3181d279a3.
Brooker JE, Fletcher JM, Dally MJ, et al; Factors associated with anxiety and depression in the management of acoustic neuroma patients. J Clin Neurosci. 2012 Feb19(2):246-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2011.06.006. Epub 2011 Nov 2.
Van Gompel JJ, Patel J, Danner C, et al; Acoustic neuroma observation associated with an increase in symptomatic tinnitus: results of the 2007-2008 Acoustic Neuroma Association survey. J Neurosurg. 2013 Oct119(4):864-8. doi: 10.3171/2013.5.JNS122301. Epub 2013 Jun 21.
Llopez Carratala I, Escorihuela Garcia V, Orts Alborch M, et al; Radiosurgery, a treatment for acoustic neuroma. Ten years' experience. Acta Otorrinolaringol Esp. 2014 May 17. pii: S0001-6519(14)00087-9. doi: 10.1016/j.otorri.2014.03.003.
I was starting a sinus infection, runny eyes, pounding headach. Woke up 2/17/16 with ears plugged around 12:30 am. Got a glss of water thinking that would help my ears pop. Did not work so went...lisa 09697
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