Labyrinthitis – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
What is Labyrinthitis?
Labyrinthitis, also called vestibular neuritis, is inflammation and swelling of the inner ear. It can result in losing balance (vertigo), ringing in the ears, and possible hearing loss.
The inner ear is sensitive and important for both hearing and balance. When labyrinthitis happens, the parts of your inner ear become irritated and swollen. This may make you lose your balance and cause hearing loss.
What causes Labyrinthitis?
Labyrinthitis is usually caused by infection by a virus and sometimes by bacteria. Common infections, such as a cold or flu can trigger the condition. Sometimes, an ear infection may also cause labyrinthitis. Allergies and certain drugs are the other causes of labyrinthitis.
The following factors increase your risk for labyrinthitis:
- Drinking large amounts of alcohol
- History of allergies
- Recent viral illness, respiratory infection, or ear infection
- Using certain drugs (such as aspirin)
What are the symptoms of Labyrinthitis?
Symptoms may include any of the following:
- Vertigo (feeling like you are spinning, even when you are not moving).
- Involuntary eye movement.
- Hearing loss in one ear.
- Loss of balance.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Ringing or other noises in your ears.
How is Labyrinthitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and review the symptoms. The doctor may do a neurological exam to check for any problem in your nervous system.
The doctor may do the following tests to rule out other causes of your symptoms:
- EEG (measures the electrical activity of the brain)
- Caloric stimulation (warming and cooling the inner ear with air or water to test eye reflexes)
- Head CT scan
- Hearing test
- MRI of the head
How is Labyrinthitis treated?
Labyrinthitis usually goes away on its own in 2-3 weeks. The doctor may treat to help reduce vertigo and other symptoms by the following medicines:
- Medicines to control nausea and vomiting, such as prochlorperazine
- Medicines to relieve dizziness, such as meclizine or scopolamine
- Sedatives, such as diazepam (Valium)
- Antiviral medicines
The doctor may recommend hospitalization if the vomiting is severe.
The doctor may recommend the following home-care measures to manage vertigo:
- Stay still and rest.
- Avoid sudden movements or position changes.
- Rest during severe episodes to avoid falling.
- Avoid bright lights, TV, and reading during attacks.
Your doctor may recommend balance therapy.
It may be dangerous if a sudden dizzy spell occurs while performing some of your usual daily activities. Avoid the following activities for one week after symptoms disappear:
- Operating heavy machinery
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.