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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)
Vestibular Disorders Association
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: 00/10/2021