Labyrinthitis is an inner ear condition that causes dizziness, Vertigo, & issues with the body’s natural balance. It’s may also cause other symptoms like acute nausea, vomiting, & motion sickness in patients. Labyrinthitis occurs when the inner ear structures called the labyrinth gets inflamed & infected, either due to an inner ear infection or an infection of the vestibular nerve. It can sometimes also happen as a result of some viral illness that causes inflammation in the inner ear nerves. To understand labyrinthitis better, we have to understand the anatomy of the ear. The anatomy of the ear consists of three parts: a) outer part, b) middle ear, & c) inner ear. In this article, we are provide details about the labyrinthitis treatment, causes and symptoms
The outer ear is made up of parts you can locate from outside the body. There is the auricle, also known as the pinna, the earlobe, & the ear canal that lasts up till the eardrum. These together make up the outer ear. The middle ear consists of the eardrum, also known medically as the tympanic membrane, and the various types of auditory bones also known as the ossicles, incus, malleus, & stapes.
The inner ear consists of semicircular canals that contain fluids, the cochlea, the vestibular nerve, & the auditory nerve. The inner ear houses the body’s vestibular system, also known as the balance system. The semicircular canals contain tiny motion-sensitive hair-like particles that sense whenever external motion stimuli occur & transport the information to the brain via the vestibular nerves.
Infection of inflammation in the labyrinth (the structure that houses the vestibular system) or the vestibular nerve, can cause problems with the body’s natural balance. This in turn leads to Vertigo symptoms like dizziness, nausea, motion sickness, & vomiting.
Labyrinthitis symptoms & signs may include:
- Vertigo characterized by a spinning sensation
- Issues with balance
- Difficulty in standing or walking
- Hearing loss, or a decrease in sound sensation in one of the ears
- Earache or pain in the ears
- The feeling of pressure or fullness in the ear
- Ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus
- Discharge from the ear
Labyrinthitis symptoms also closely resemble those of another inner ear disorder called Vestibular Neuritis. Although most of their symptoms overlap, Vestibular Neuritis doesn’t involve hearing loss. That is often an important factor in differentiating the two disorders.
Doctors & the medical community as a whole have been unable to figure out the exact cause of Labyrinthitis. Swelling or issues with the nerve inside the brain are some of the labyrinthitis causes. This nerve helps maintain balance & hearing in the body. Another probable labyrinthitis cause could be viral illnesses or infections, that can cause swelling or inflammation inside the vestibular nerve & other crucial inner ear structures.
The viruses that can cause this include the influenza virus, the herpes virus, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis, Epstein-Barr virus, & poliovirus. In some cases, inner ear problems like barotrauma, which is an injury caused by abnormal levels of pressure inside the ears, or otosclerosis, which refers to abnormal bone growth that affects the middle ear, can also cause labyrinthitis. As for contagiousness, labyrinthitis itself is not contagious as an infection. However, other viral infections that can often cause labyrinthitis could very well be contagious.
The only way to know for sure if you indeed have Labyrinthitis is to see a doctor as soon as you begin to notice symptoms. As specified before, labyrinthitis symptoms can often resemble those of other viral or vestibular disorders, thus getting an accurate diagnosis is often essential. A Vertigo specialist or a trained neurologist can help differentiate between labyrinthitis & the various other conditions that it can mimic, on the basis of certain tests & observations.
Your doctor will likely use an otoscope to check the insides of the eardrums & the ear canal to look for any signs of redness, swelling, & inflammation. They will also look for earwax build-up or any other abnormalities in the ear. Your doctor may gently blow air against the eardrum to see if it moves, which under normal conditions, it should. If it doesn’t move, that could be a sign of the presence of abnormal levels of fluid inside the ear which are hindering the normal functioning of the ear.
Aside from this, your doctor might also use a tuning fork to diagnose neurologically arising hearing loss.
Labyrinthitis usually goes away in a few weeks. In cases where the symptoms don’t resolve on their own, you might need to seek out specialized labyrinthitis treatment.
Labyrinthitis treatment depends on the exact labyrinthitis cause, & a general medical history of your symptoms. Depending on how long your symptoms have lasted, & how severe they are, your doctor will draw up a personalized labyrinthitis treatment plan for you.
If your labyrinthitis symptoms are caused by a viral infection of some sort, then your labyrinthitis treatment will focus on treating the infection first & foremost. Additionally, you may be given labyrinthitis treatment medicine to reduce the extent of your swelling & inflammation, to treat nausea & vomiting symptoms, & help with recurrent dizziness & Vertigo attacks.
In case you’re also having balance problems, your labyrinthitis treatment may also include visits to a physical therapist who can prescribe exercises to help you with reinstating your natural balance & gait.
Labyrinthitis treatment medicines:
Labyrinthitis infections may be easily treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications or specific prescription labyrinthitis treatment medicines.
Your doctor may recommend some of these labyrinthitis treatment medicines to you:
- OTC diphenhydramine, also known as Benadryl,
- prescription meclizine, also known as Antivert,
- promethazine hydrochloride, also known as Phenergan,
- Lorazepam, also known as Ativan,
- Diazepam, also known as Valium to help with accompanying nausea and vomiting, and relieve dizziness and vertigo.
As you can clearly see, some of these medications are also vertigo medicines, & are used for vertigo treatment. These are recommended to patients to help relieve them of their vertigo symptoms arising from labyrinthitis. Other prescription medications, for example, steroids (prednisone), antibiotics, and antivirals may also be prescribed to help reduce inflammation and treat any other infections associated with labyrinthitis.
In addition to medications, your doctor may also recommend certain labyrinthitis treatment exercises to you to help with your vertigo, dizziness, & balance symptoms. These exercises may include some general vertigo exercises, along with some specific exercises designed for your particular symptoms.
Home remedies for labyrinthitis aren’t sufficient in themselves for labyrinthitis treatment but can go a long way towards aiding speedy recovery. These are also helpful in treating some specific labyrinthitis symptoms.
The home remedies for labyrinthitis include:
- Using a warm compress over the ear to help with the accompanying pain
- Standing or keeping your head in an upright position
- Do salt water gargles
- Quitting smoking & limiting alcohol intake
- Indulging in various stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, & other activities
- Eating a balanced diet & drinking adequate amounts of water & fluids