What is Labyrinthitis?

An inner ear disorder, Labyrinthitis it is caused when the vestibular nerve becomes inflamed, it is often associated with a similar disorder, vestibular neuritis. As the vestibular nerve is responsible for sending messages to your brain about your spacial orientation and balance, its inflammation results in problems with balance and bouts of vertigo. As labyrinthitis also affects the inner ear hearing apparatus and the cochlear nerve, which transmits sound information to the brain, this means that labyrinthitis can lead to hearing loss or buzzing sound in the ears (Tinnitus). Labyrinthitis can have various causes including viruses and infections. Experiencing a bout of Labyrinthitis can leave you feeling exhausted and run down until you are fully recovered.

If you are experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, take our online hearing test now or book an appointment for a hearing test today.

What are the symptoms of Labyrinthitis?

As labyrinthitis affects the part of your brain which controls your stability, the most common symptom is an intense spinning sensation. Other symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Inability to balance
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in your ear)
  • Loss of hearing in the high-frequency range in one ear
  • Trouble getting your eyes to focus
  • A high temperature
  • Complications may lead to permanent hearing loss

Diagnosing Labyrinthitis can sometimes be difficult as symptoms can mimic those of other conditions, such as migraines, strokes or Meniere’s disease.

What are the causes of Labyrinthitis?

Labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis are viral infections, most commonly caused by the common cold, the flu, glandular fever and sore throats. Other potential causes also include; allergies, injuries to your ear, an infection in the middle ear, meningitis and, on the rare occasion, Labyrinthitis can be a side effect from taking certain medications.

What available treatments are there?

To treat Labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis it is important to find out the initial cause of the infection. The symptoms of Labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis can be like those of a stroke (instability, sudden loss of hearing in one ear) so it is very important that you seek urgent medical attention should you experience any of these.

If the cause of the infection is caused by a bacterial infection in another section of the ear, it can be cleared up with a course of antibiotics. Vertigo and dizziness can be treated with corticosteroids, antihistamines may also be prescribed. Another treatment which can be helpful if the condition persists are specialist physiotherapist exercises known as vestibular rehabilitation. These exercises retrain the brain to interpret the confused messages about balance being transmitted from the damaged inner ear.

Other treatments for vertigo include:

  • Sitting still during an attack
  • Standing up slowly from a sitting or lying position
  • Avoiding flashing lights, television or computer screens during an attack
  • Keep moving, as this will help you adapt to the confused messages reaching your brain, sooner
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid loud noises

Find out more about some other causes of hearing loss here