Know the basics
What is labyrinthitis?
Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear that causes dizziness. Deep inside each ear is a structure called a labyrinth that helps regulate balance. If the labyrinth is irritated, it sends the wrong signal to the brain. Labyrinthitis may be associated with hearing loss, vertigo (feeling of spinning), loss of balance, and nausea.
How common is labyrinthitis?
Labyrinthitis commonly affects more females than males. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are some signs and symptoms of labyrinthitis?
Symptoms may start suddenly, usually come and go, and last from less than a minute to several hours or days. People have vertigo, usually made worse by changing position quickly. Other symptoms include dizziness, feeling unsteady, loss of balance, nausea, ringing in the ears, tiredness, and feeling sick. Vomiting may occur. Hearing slowly returns to normal in most people, usually within 2 weeks.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have have a severe headache, fever, or a stiff, sore neck with your symptoms, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes labyrinthitis?
The cause is often a viral infection. Rarely, the cause is a bacterial infection. Many times the cause is unknown.
Know the risk factors
What increases your risk for labyrinthitis?
There are many risk factors for labyrinthitis, such as:
- Drinking large amounts of alcohol.
- History of allergies.
- Recent viral illness, respiratory infection, or ear infection.
- Using certain prescription or non-prescription drugs (such as aspirin).
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
What are your treatment options for labyrinthitis?
Labyrinthitis usually goes away by itself, in several days to 2 weeks. For severe dizziness the doctor may prescribe meclizine. Lying still with eyes closed in a dark room will help severe sickness or dizziness. Change positions, such as getting up from lying down, slowly.
Head movements, called Epley maneuvers, may be prescribed to help relieve the dizziness. Drinking plenty of water or other fluids is important. Dehydration can make symptoms worse.
Antibiotics are not helpful, since most cases are not due to bacterial infections. The doctor may prescribe an antibiotic only in rare cases when suspecting bacterial infection.
What are the most common tests for labyrinthitis?
The doctor makes a diagnosis from symptoms and an examination (especially of the eyes, ears, nose, and throat). Mild redness of the nose or throat can occur with a viral infection. Some-times, the doctor may do special tests for other symptoms such as hearing loss. The doctor may suggest seeing an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist or neurologist (specialist in nervous system diseases). X-rays and laboratory tests are not usually needed.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage labyrinthitis?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with labyrinthitis:
- Sit or lie down if you’re dizzy.
- Tell your doctor if your symptoms suddenly worsen.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
If you have any questions, Please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders /Elsevier, 2012. Print edition. Page 671
Labyrinthitis. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001054.htm. September 22, 2015
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017