regardless of age, if an AN gets large enough it can kill you. Doesn't matter if you're 23 or 43.
I was diagnosed about 3 months after I noticed diminished hearing in my left ear. I was 45 1/2.
I answered the phone one day and realized that the person on the other end sounded muffled and far away. I also noticed that my ear felt "full" like when you're on an airplane. I thought it was just a sinus infection or a cold coming on, and decided it would go away on it's own. Wrong.
I kind of forgot about the issue, but when I went to my internist for a regular check up and he asked about problems, I mentioned my ear. He said it was probably just wax, but that he'd take a look. When he saw nothing, he gave me some ear drops and we decided if things didn't improve in 10 days I'd see an ENT.
Drops were ineffective, so I went to my ENT who did a hearing test and told me the hearing in my left ear was definitely "going". He looked into my ear, didn't see anything, and scheduled a MRI with gadolinium contrast.
A day or two later he called me and said there was "something" in my ear. He refused to spectulate about what it might be and surprisingly told me he didn't know how large this "something" was
He then referred me to a neurotologist who he said was one of the best in my area (thankfully he was right about this).
I went to the hospital and picked up a copy of my films, and though I couldn't see the AN that was staring me right in the face, the radiologist's report told me what it might be and it also told me the measurements.
Long story short, my neurotologist told me that I could have radiation, surgery, or I could watch and wait for a time, but not too long. We discussed all the options - which quite frankly scared the hell out of me - and I went home to decide what I'd do. My neurotologist flat out refused to tell me, despite me asking him repeatedly. At the time this frustrated me - I was looking for a way out of making my own decision - but in the end I realized he was completely right. It was my decision, not his.
Although I initially told my neurotologist there was "no way" I could have surgery, that's ultimately what I chose because I felt it was best for me.
I scheduled my surgery about 6 weeks after my diagnosis because I had a business trip out of town and my doc puts restrictions on flying. I had my surgery at the end of May because I wanted to be on a plane to Denver the first week in August.
I have never doubted or regretted my decision. I had total confidence in my neurotologist and my neurosurgeon and would do it all over again if I had to.