A local Yate man who thought he was suffering from mild hearing loss is praising his audiologist after she spotted a tumour behind his right ear.

Richard Burns (52) had visited his local hospital after suffering from hearing loss, but after being told there was nothing wrong he assumed it was just down to getting older. That was until his fiancée intervened and sent him to Specsavers in Yate.  

‘After undergoing a number of tests in hospital and finding nothing, I had resigned myself to the fact that hearing loss was just a part of getting older,’ says Richard. ‘My fiancée Debbie wasn’t convinced though and really pushed for me to go to Specsavers to get one more test and I am so lucky she did.’

Quick referral

Richard was seen by the store’s audiologist, Harley Stevens who carried out the hearing test. Upon examination Harley realised that Richard had severe hearing loss on his right side and immediately referred him to his local GP.

‘As soon as I tested Mr. Burns and discovered that he was suffering from unilateral hearing loss, I knew that it was something far more sinister than a blockage or getting older. It’s very unusual to have perfect hearing in one ear and severe hearing loss in the other,’ says Harley.

Egg sized tumour

His doctor then referred him to a specialist at the BRI Hospital where he underwent a CT scan which revealed an egg sized tumour sitting on his right ear canal.

‘I couldn’t believe what they had found, if it wasn’t for Harley we would never have known it was there. I’ve had other tests in the past and nothing had been picked up.’

After a number of specialist appointments and scans, Richard went in for surgery at the Southmead Hospital to remove the tumour. Fifteen days later he was discharged and the specialist was able to confirm that the tumour was an acoustic neuroma, meaning that it was benign.  Unfortunately, Richard has lost all hearing in his right side after the surgeons had to remove the part of the ear canal that the tumour was sitting on.  

‘The tumour was so big that the specialists think it had been there for 10 years. I no longer have any hearing in my right side, but that is a far better outcome than it could have been,’ says Richard. ‘My family and I send our heartfelt thanks to Harley and Specsavers for picking this up and sending me to my GP.

Importance of hearing tests

‘If I can encourage one person to go and get a hearing test then this will be worth it. If you are hard of hearing, please don’t assume it’s old age knocking, make sure you get it looked at.’

Harley adds, ‘I’m so glad that Mr. Burns has recovered from his operation. I work across three stores as an audiologist, as well as being the Hearcare Director at Gloucester Specsavers and this is the first time I have ever come across a condition like this.

‘I can’t stress how important it is to get your hearing checked regularly because, as Mr. Burns can tell you, it’s really not worth waiting. Please pop in as soon as possible if you are experiencing abnormal symptoms.’

Acoustic neuroma

An acoustic neuroma is a non-cancerous brain tumour that grows on the nerve for hearing and balance, which can often cause problems such as hearing loss and unsteadiness. They can be serious if they become very large. They tend to affect adults between 30 and 60 years old and usually have no obvious cause. But as it grows and presses on other parts of the brain, it can cause other problems, such as headaches, blurred vision and muscle weakness on one side of the face.

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