By pressing on different nerves or parts of your brain, pituitary tumors can cause symptoms like headaches and vision problems. They’re not likely to cause problems with your ears or hearing, but certain brain tumors might.
Pituitary tumors (adenomas) are abnormal growths that develop within tissues of the pituitary gland, a hormone-regulating gland at the base of your brain.
While most of these tumors are noncancerous (benign), they may still cause symptoms. If they grow large, they can press on your brain, causing vision problems and headaches. Other symptoms may be due to hormonal disruptions.
Ear symptoms aren’t usually the result of a pituitary tumor. But research has linked certain types of brain cancers to symptoms like ear pressure and tinnitus (ringing in your ear).
If you’re experiencing ongoing ear symptoms, it’s a good idea to see a doctor for an evaluation.
The exact symptoms of pituitary tumors may vary based on which hormones they affect and whether they press on other areas of the brain. But the most common symptoms include:
- vision problems
- facial pain or numbness
If a pituitary tumor grows large or invasive, it may grow into or press onto nerves or different parts of your brain. This may translate to the following symptoms:
Pressure from large pituitary tumors can also lead to headaches. In some cases, the headache may be severe and wake you up in your sleep or be worse when you wake up in the morning.
Headaches may also be related to hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of fluids within the ventricles in your brain. But this is a very rare complication of large pituitary tumors. It’s more common with other brain tumors.
Pituitary tumors can also press on the optic nerves behind your eyes. This can cause blurry or double vision and loss of peripheral (side) vision. Progressive blindness may occur in more severe cases.
Vision changes are common with pituitary tumors, affecting about
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are other possible symptoms of pituitary tumors, especially if you experience any of the above symptoms. Vomiting also tends to be worse in the mornings.
Sinus or facial pain
Your sinuses are cavities in your skull, behind your eyes and nose. In rare cases, an invasive pituitary adenoma — a tumor that has spread beyond the pituitary gland — might affect the sinuses. This can cause sinus or facial pain.
Can a pituitary tumor cause ear ringing?
Ear ringing (tinnitus) isn’t a known symptom of pituitary tumors. But ear ringing may result from brain tumors or other conditions, such as heart disease, ear infections, or thyroid disease. See a doctor to evaluate any case of persistent ear ringing.
Headaches and vision problems are the most common symptoms of pituitary tumors. They don’t usually cause ear symptoms.
A growing pituitary tumor can press on the cranial nerves — twelve nerves that help you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel. But a pituitary tumor is
But certain brain tumors known as acoustic neuromas can affect the cranial nerve most connected to hearing. These can cause symptoms like:
If you’ve undergone radiation therapy for a pituitary tumor, your risk of a secondary brain cancer may be
Treatment for head symptoms involves direct treatment of the pituitary tumor. A doctor will consider the size and type of tumor, whether it has spread, and your age and overall health.
Pituitary tumors are generally very treatable. Options may include:
- Radiation therapy: This involves high dose X-rays to target and destroy the tumor’s cells.
- Surgery: This will likely involve removing the tumor.
- Hormone-blocking medications: A doctor may consider such medications if the tumor causes your body to produce too many hormones, such as estrogen, testosterone, or thyroid hormones.
- Drug therapies: Like radiation therapy, these are designed to help destroy tumors.
- Chemotherapy: Doctors may recommend chemo for malignant pituitary tumors to help kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading.
Headache and vision problems are common symptoms of pituitary tumors. If you experience these regularly, it’s important to see a doctor for an evaluation and diagnosis. It’s uncommon for pituitary tumors to be cancerous, but they can still enlarge and spread to your bones or sinus cavity.
Although they affect your eyes and sometimes your sinuses, pituitary tumors don’t usually affect your ears. The pituitary gland isn’t close enough to the ear or the nerves that affect hearing to cause such symptoms. But some types of brain tumors, like acoustic neuromas, can cause symptoms like hearing loss and ear ringing.
While these symptoms may be related to pituitary or brain tumors, they may also be due to another condition. A doctor can help determine the underlying cause of your head and ear symptoms and recommend the appropriate next steps.