Labyrinthitis is an ear disorder that involves irritation and swelling (inflammation) of the inner ear.
There are many causes of labyrinthitis. In rare cases, it occurs after an ear infection (otitis media) or an upper respiratory infection. It may also occur after an allergy, cholesteatoma, or taking certain drugs that are dangerous to the inner ear.
During labyrinthitis, the parts of the inner ear become irritated and inflamed. This interferes with their ability to help you balance and hear.
The following raise your risk for labyrinthitis:
A complete physical and nervous system (neurological) exam should be done. An ear examination may not reveal any problems.
Usually, other tests are not needed to diagnose layrinthitis. Tests will be done to rule out other causes of your symptoms. These may include:
Labyrinthitis usually goes away within a few weeks. Treatment helps to reduce symptoms, such as spinning sensations. Medications that may reduce symptoms include:
To prevent your symptoms from getting worse during episodes of vertigo, try the following:
If you have severe vomiting, you may be admitted to the hospital.
Severe symptoms usually go away within a week. Most patients are completely better within 2 to 3 months. Continued dizziness is more likely to last in older patients.
Hearing loss may be permanent.
Call your health care provider if:
Call 911 or your local emergency number if you have any of the following severe symptoms:
There is no known way to prevent labyrinthitis.
Bacterial labyrinthitis; Serous labyrinthitis; Neuronitis - vestibular; Vestibular neuronitis; Viral neurolabyrinthitis; Vestibular neuritis
Polensek SH. Labyrinthitis. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010.
Post RE, Dickerson LM. Dizziness: a diagnostic approach. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82:361-369.
Updated by: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington.
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