Any person experiencing hearing problems should seek medical attention promptly to allow for the early detection of ear tumors in case these turn out to be the cause of the problem, Taipei City Hospital said yesterday.
While hearing loss is often regarded as a relatively benign annoyance that accompanies old age, it can be a symptom of dangerous ear tumors, said Li Kuo-hsi (李國熙), director of the ear, nose and throat division at the hospital’s Renai (仁愛) branch.
The hospital reported that it has seen a sharp rise in ear tumor cases this year.
Tumors found along the nerve connecting the ears to the brain account for almost 10 percent of all cranial tumors, Li said.
Although these types of tumors will typically not spread to other parts of the body, they can compress and damage the cochlear nerve as they grow, leading to hearing loss.
“Left untreated, these tumors can grow large enough to compress other nerves, leading to facial contortion and paralysis if it reaches the facial nerves,” Li said.
“A slightly larger tumor will start to compress the brain stem, endangering the patient’s life by leading to irregular changes in breathing, pulse and blood pressure,” he added.
Li said that promptly diagnosing tumors is key to their being treated effectively. While smaller tumors can be controlled with radiation therapy, large tumors require surgery that can often result in permanent hearing loss, he said.
He added that the smaller the tumors are when removed, the less risk there is that surgery will damage facial or other nerves.
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