Labyrinthitis: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment
What is Labyrinthitis?
Labyrinthitis is an infection that occurs in the inner ear and can affect the hearing and balance of a person. It can generally occur when a bacterial or viral infection spreads to the inner ear. The inner ear contains two vestibular nerves that send information about the navigation and balance control to the brain. When any one of these vestibular nerves gets inflamed, it causes a condition called Labyrinthitis.
Causes of Labyrinthitis
Before you resort to any kind of treatment for labyrinthitis, it is important to understand the underlying causes for it. Some of the main factors that can cause labyrinthitis are:
- Bacterial middle ear infections
- Inner ear viral infections
- Bronchitis and other respiratory infections
- Stomach viruses
- Herpes virus
You are also at a risk of contracting labyrinthitis if you
- Intake too much alcohol
- Are extremely stressed
- Take over the counter medications
- Smoke regularly
- Have a family history of allergies
Symptoms of Labyrinthitis
Identifying the symptoms of labyrinthitis at an early stage is crucial for labyrinthitis treatment. The main symptoms of labyrinthitis include:
- Difficulty in eye focussing
- Loss of hearing in one ear or both ears
- Loss of balance
- Blurred vision
- Feeling lightheaded
These symptoms can be intense for the first few days and fade off after a few days and again surface back with the same symptoms. It is important to treat labyrinthitis as soon as you experience the first onset of symptoms.
Treatment for Labyrinthitis
Labyrinthitis Treatment usually involves a combination of medication, exercise and self-help techniques. The treatment type is based on the type and severity of symptoms.
#1. Self-help Techniques
In the initial stages, labyrinthitis usually results in dizziness and vertigo, hence the following techniques will help reduce the symptoms and control labyrinthitis
- Avoid bright lights
- Reduce intake of coffee and alcohol
- Lie down in a comfortable position as soon as you experience any symptom
- Cut out any surrounding distractions that can cause stress
- Drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated
In case of severe symptoms, you must contact your doctor immediately who will then prescribe you some over the counter medications like
- Benzodiazepines- These medications help reduce the activity inside your nervous system and hence the brain will be less affected by the abnormal signals coming from the vestibular system.
- Corticosteroids- Corticosteroids such as prednisone are prescribed by the doctor if the symptoms are severe. These medications help reducing the inflammation in the ear caused due to labyrinthitis.
- Prochlorperazine – Prochlorperazine is a popular treatment for labyrinthitis. It is a type of anti-emetic that is very useful in treating symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and vertigo which are associated with labyrinthitis.
- Antibiotics- Another common labyrinthitis treatment involves the administration of antibiotics. Anitbiotics are usually prescribed if labyrinthitis is caused due to bacterial or viral infections.
In some cases, doctors usually suggest some exercises for treatment of labyrinthitis. Some of the common exercises include
- Bending the head backward and forward
- Walking up and down an inclined path
- Rolling the eyes up and down and side to side
- Bending the torso backward and forward
If the symptoms still continue to persist, your doctor may do further diagnostic tests to analyse and check for permanent hearing loss. In some chronic cases of labyrinthitis, doctors may suggest the patient to opt for physical therapy called vestibular rehabilitation.
Labyrinthitis is not life threatening and if diagnosed in time, the treatment can be administered quickly and the person returns to normal in few weeks.