Labyrinthitis is swelling and irritation of the labyrinth of the inner ear. This is a series of fluid-filled tubes and sacs.
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Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
- Current or recent viral infection, especially a respiratory infection
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Head injury
- Blood vessel disorders
- Problems with the immune system
- Taking certain medicines, such as antibiotics, aspirin, and quinine
Problems can range from mild to severe and last for days or weeks.
Problems may be:
- A feeling of spinning
- Balance problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Problems controlling eye movement
- Ringing in the ear
- Hearing loss
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the ears. You may need to see a doctor who treats ear problems.
Hearing tests will be done.
Images may be taken. This can be done with:
Any underlying cause will need to be treated. This problem usually goes away on its own with time. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:
Medicines to control symptoms may be:
- Antiemetics—to control nausea and vomiting
- Vestibular suppressants—to limit vertigo
- Steroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—to help control inflammation
Vestibular exercises use a series of eye, head, and body movements. They get the body used to moving without the feeling of spinning.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) https://www.nidcd.nih.gov
Vestibular Disorders Association http://www.vestibular.org
Labyrinthitis. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/labyrinthitis. Accessed January 8, 2021.
Labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis. Vestibular Disorders Association website. Available at: https://vestibular.org/article/diagnosis-treatment/types-of-vestibular-disorders/labyrinthitis-and-vestibular-neuritis. Accessed January 8, 2021.
Royal W 3rd, Vargas D. Bell's palsy and vestibular neuronitis. Handb Clin Neurol. 2014;123:763-770.
Vestibular neuronitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/vestibular-neuronitis. Accessed January 8, 2021.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
- Review Date: 12/2020
- Update Date: 01/08/2021