Labyrinthitis is a disorder that occurs in the inner ear. It is characterized by an infection or and swelling in the inner ear. The condition is usually caused by a type of virus. It may cause vertigo, dizziness, loss of balance, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes hearing loss. The inner ear has two nerves called vestibular nerves. They are responsible for sending information to your brain regarding the movement of your head. Labyrinthitis occurs when one of these nerves becomes inflamed. Labyrinthitis is also known as an inner ear infection or inner ear vertigo. It is estimated that about seventeen percent of people with chronic ear infections develop labyrinthitis. In addition, about one in every 10,000 people seek treatment for sudden labyrinthitis, which often occurs after a cold or the flu.
The signs and symptoms of labyrinthitis often come on rather suddenly and can be severe for a number of days. After about a week or so, the signs and symptoms begin to go away. However, if you you’re your head suddenly, the signs and symptoms may appear again. There is not much pain associated with the signs and symptoms of this condition.
The signs and symptoms of labyrinthitis may include dizziness, vertigo, loss of balance, nausea and vomiting, tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in your ear), loss of hearing in the high-frequency range in one ear, and difficulty focusing your eyes. Sometimes, complications can include permanent hearing loss. This is very rare though.
What causes Labyrinthitis? Labyrinthitis can occur among people of any age. It may be caused by a number of conditions such as a respiratory illnesses (such as bronchitis), viruses of the inner ear, stomach viruses, herpes viruses, bacterial infections (including bacterial middle ear infections), or infectious organisms (like the one that causes Lyme disease).
What are the risk factors for labyrinthitis? There are a number of things that may increase your risk for developing the condition. You are at an increased risk of developing labyrinthitis if you smoke, drink an excessive amount of alcohol, have a history of allergies, are habitually fatigued, are under extreme stress, or take some prescription or over-the-counter medications (especially aspirin).
Treatment for labyrinthitis may include antihistamines, medications to decrease dizziness and nausea, antiviral drugs, antibiotics for a bacterial infection, corticosteroids, plenty of rest, and drinking plenty of fluids. If the condition is mild, it is often able to be treated at home by resting, drinking fluids and waiting it out.