St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Labyrinthitis

    Bacterial labyrinthitis; Serous labyrinthitis; Neuronitis - vestibular; Vestibular neuronitis; Viral neurolabyrinthitis; Vestibular neuritis; Labyrinthitis-vertigo: Labyrinthitis-dizziness

    Labyrinthitis is irritation and swelling of the inner ear. It can cause vertigo and hearing loss.

    Causes

    Labyrinthitis is usually caused by a virus and sometimes by bacteria. Having a cold or flu can trigger the condition. Less often, an ear infection may lead to labyrinthitis. Other causes include allergies or certain drugs that are bad for the inner ear.

    Your inner ear is important for both hearing and balance. When you have labyrinthitis, the parts of your inner ear become irritated and swollen. This can make you lose your balance and cause hearing loss.

    These factors raise your risk for labyrinthitis:

    • Drinking large amounts of alcohol
    • Fatigue
    • History of allergies
    • Recent viral illness, respiratory infection, or ear infection
    • Smoking
    • Stress
    • Using certain prescription or nonprescription drugs (such as aspirin)

    Symptoms

    • Feeling like you are spinning, even when you are still (vertigo)
    • Your eyes moving on their own, making it hard to focus them
    • Dizziness
    • Hearing loss in one ear
    • Loss of balance; you may fall toward one side
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Ringing or other noises in your ears (tinnitus)

    Exams and Tests

    Your doctor may give you a physical exam. You may also have tests of your nervous system (neurological exam).

    Tests can rule out other causes of your symptoms. These may include:

    • EEG
    • Electronystagmography,and warming and cooling the inner ear with air or water to test eye reflexes (caloric stimulation)
    • Head CT scan
    • Hearing tests (audiology/audiometry)
    • MRI of the head

    Treatment

    Labyrinthitis usually goes away within a few weeks. Treatment can help reduce vertigo and other symptoms. Medicines that may help include:

    • Antihistamines
    • Medicines to control nausea and vomiting, such as prochlorperazine (Compazine)
    • Medicines relieve dizziness, such as meclizine (Bonine, Dramamine, or Antivert) or scopolamine (Transderm-Scop)
    • Sedatives, such as diazepam (Valium)
    • Steroids (Prednisone)
    • Antiviral agents

    Doing these things can help you manage vertigo:

    • Stay still and rest.
    • Avoid sudden movements or position changes.
    • Slowly resume activity. You may need help walking when you lose your balance during attacks.
    • Avoid bright lights, TV, and reading during attacks. Rest during severe episodes, and slowly increase your activity.
    • Ask your health care provider about balance therapy. This may help once nausea and vomiting have passed.

    You should avoid the following for 1 week after symptoms disappear:

    • Driving
    • Operating heavy machinery
    • Climbing

    A sudden dizzy spell during these activities can be dangerous.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    • If you have severe vomiting, you may be admitted to the hospital.
    • Severe symptoms usually go away within a week.
    • Most people are completely better within 2 to 3 months.
    • Older adults are more likely to have dizziness that lasts longer.

    Rarely, hearing loss may be permanent.

    • You can injure yourself or others during attacks of vertigo
    • Permanent hearing loss (rare)

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if:

    • You have dizziness, vertigo, loss of balance, or other symptoms of labyrinthitis
    • You have hearing loss

    Call 911 or your local emergency number if you have any of the following severe symptoms:

    • Convulsions
    • Double vision
    • Fainting
    • Vomiting a lot
    • Slurred speech
    • Vertigo that occurs with a fever of more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Weakness or paralysis

    Prevention

    There is no known way to prevent labyrinthitis.

    References

    Polensek SH. Labyrinthitis. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri's Clinical Advisor. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010.

    Post RE, Dickerson LM. Dizziness: a diagnostic approach. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82:361-369.

    Crane BT, Schessel DA, Nedzelski J, Minor LB. Peripheral vestibular disorders. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 1

    BACK TO TOP

    • Ear anatomy

      illustration

      • Ear anatomy

        illustration

      Tests for Labyrinthitis

        Review Date: 8/12/2013

        Reviewed By: Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Associate Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
        adam.com

        A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


        Back  |  Top
        About Us
        Contact Us
        History
        Mission
        Locations & Directions
        Quality Reports
        Annual Reports
        Honors & Awards
        Community Health Needs
        Assessment

        Newsroom
        Services
        Brain & Spine
        Cancer
        Heart
        Maternity
        Orthopedics
        Pulmonary
        Sleep Medicine
        Urgent Care
        Women's Services
        All Services
        Patients & Visitors
        Locations & Directions
        Find a Physician
        Tour St. Luke's
        Patient & Visitor Information
        Contact Us
        Payment Options
        Financial Assistance
        Send a Card
        Mammogram Appointments
        Health Tools
        My Personal Health
        mystlukes
        Spirit of Women
        Health Information & Tools
        Clinical Trials
        Health Risk Assessments
        Employer Programs -
        Passport to Wellness

        Classes & Events
        Classes & Events
        Spirit of Women
        Donate & Volunteer
        Giving Opportunities
        Volunteer
        Physicians & Employees
        For Physicians
        Remote Access
        Medical Residency Information
        Pharmacy Residency Information
        Physician CPOE Training
        Careers
        Careers
        St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
        Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile