Although the term labyrinthitis may sound unfamiliar, this medical condition affects many people throughout their lives and is known as the inner ear. Labyrinthitis can cause spinning and loss of balance, and in rare cases, permanent hearing loss.
What is labyrinthitis?
Labyrinthitis is a disorder of the inner ear. Your inner ear contains two vestibular nerves that send information to your brain about spatial mobility and balance control. Inflammation of any of these vestibular nerves leads to the development of labyrinthitis.
While this condition does not usually cause pain, it can cause other symptoms that may last for a few days before fading away, and there is always a chance these symptoms will reappear if you happen to suddenly move your head.
Here are some of the more common signs and symptoms of labyrinthitis.
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Hearing loss in one ear
- Difficulty focusing your eyes
- In rare cases, the affected individual may also have permanent hearing loss.
What are the causes and risk factors?
While labyrinthitis can occur at any age, there are many factors that can contribute to its development, such as:
- Viral or bacterial infections in the inner or middle ear
- Respiratory diseases such as bronchitis
- Herpes viruses
- Stomach viruses
- Infectious microorganisms such as those that cause Lyme disease
Other factors that can increase the risk of developing labyrinthitis are:
- Addiction to alcohol
- Chronic fatigue
- Severe stress
- Take prescription or over-the-counter medications such as aspirin
Labyrinthitis is treated according to its symptoms and diagnosis.
Labyrinthitis can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection (bacterial labyrinthitis) that leads to inflammation of one or both of the vestibular nerves. It is most often caused by viruses, but it can also be caused by bacterial infections and is rarely painful. Symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness, imbalance, nausea, and hearing difficulty.