Ear Nose & Throat Surgery

Labyrinthitis

Introduction to Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis is the inflammation of the inner ear and is sometimes known as otitis interna.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What is Labyrinthitis?

Labyrinthitis is the inflammation of the inner ear and is sometimes known as otitis interna.

What causes Labyrinthitis?

Frequently labyrinthitis presents itself soon after a viral or bacterial upper respiratory infection or flu-like symptoms, which then lead to the further inflammation of the inner ear. The symptoms of labyrinthitis are caused by this inflammation and the subsequent damage it causes to parts of your body that influence hearing and balance.

What are the symptoms of Labyrinthitis?

Due to this inflammation many people feel an unpleasant sense of pressure in their ears which can cause pain, nausea, vertigo, tinnitus and potentially some form of fluid secretion from the ear canal. Many people also experience problems with their vision and describe fast, uncontrollable movements of the eye which in medical literature are termed nystagmus. This abnormal vision is can contribute to existing sensations of vertigo as a visual reference point is what helps people unconsciously maintain their balance and posture.

Bacterial labyrinthitis, as opposed to that caused by a virus, can often lead to further complications if left untreated such as hearing loss and more chronic tinnitus as the inner is progressively damaged by inflammation. Those who suffer issues with their balance without the associated hearing loss are described as having vestibular neuritis which is caused by inflammatory damage to the vestibular system, a component of the inner ear which moderates balance and head movements.

How is Labyrinthitis treated?

Treatment of viral labyrinthitis is can be similar to that of other mild viral infections: Rest, fluids and avoiding alcohol and irritating lights or noises while antiviral medications can be prescribed in more persistent cases. Potentially more serious cases of labyrinthitis caused by a bacterial infection are treated with antibiotics.

If the patient suffers particularly severe vertigo or dizziness then benzodiazepines or anti-emetics can be prescribed to alleviate the symptoms, especially in cases involving elderly patients where falls carry an increased risk. Chronic labyrinthitis that presents itself as vestibular neuritis (balance issues without hearing loss) can be managed with physical therapy aimed at retraining your gaze, coordination and balance to adapt to any damage caused by the infection.

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