Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis is swelling and irritation in the inner ear. It occurs in the labyrinth of the ear. This is a system of cavities and canals. They affect hearing, balance, and eye movement.

  • Causes

    Labyrinthitis is caused by damage or impairment of the labyrinth part of the chochlea from:

    • Infection
    • Trauma
    • Inflammation
    • Drugs

  • Definition

    Labyrinthitis is swelling and irritation in the inner ear. It occurs in the labyrinth of the ear. This is a system of cavities and canals. They affect hearing, balance, and eye movement.

    Labyrinthitis
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  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. An ear exam and a neurological exam may also be done.

    Your ears may be tested. This can be done with:

    • Maneuvers for evaluating for other causes of lightheadedness
    • Hearing tests

    Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

    • CT scan
    • MRI scan

    Your eyes may also be tested. This can be done with an electronystagmogram.

  • Prevention

    To reduce your risk of getting labyrinthitis:

    • Seek prompt treatment for any ear problems or infection.
    • Avoid head injury by wearing seat belts and safety helmets.
    • Ask your doctor about side effects of any medications you are taking.
    • Avoid alcohol.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your risk for labyrinthitis include:

    • Current or recent viral infection, especially a respiratory infection
    • Allergies
    • Smoking
    • Drinking too much alcohol
    • Stress
    • Head injury
    • Disease of blood vessels
    • Autoimmune disease

    • Side effects of drugs, including:

      • Certain antibiotics
      • Aspirin
      • Quinine—may be used for malaria treatment

  • Symptoms

    The symptoms can range from mild to severe and last for days or many weeks. Symptoms are usually temporary, but rarely, can become permanent.

    The most common symptoms are:

    • A spinning sensation
    • Lightheadedness
    • Balance problems

    Other symptoms may include:

    • Fatigue
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Hearing loss
    • Involuntary eye movement
    • Ringing in the ear

  • Treatment

    Treatment may include: