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Labyrinthitis: Symptoms, Causes, Tests and Treatment

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Among the many conditions that may affect human ears, labyrinthitis is a significant condition . It is an inflammation of the inner portion of the ear called the labyrinth. Labyrinthitis can, in rare instances, result in long-term balance problems and permanent hearing loss if left untreated. Therefore, recognising the symptoms early and treating it is essential. This blog is a comprehensive guide on labyrinthitis, its symptoms, causes, and treatment options available.  

What is labyrinthitis? 

Inflammation of the labyrinth, a part of your inner ear, is called Labyrinthitis. It can cause hearing loss, vertigo and other symptoms. Possible treatments include antibiotics, antivirals or steroid medications. This occurs due to the brain’s attempt to interpret the incongruent information sent by the healthy labyrinth or nerve and the infected one. 

What are the symptoms of labyrinthitis? 

Labyrinthitis symptoms appear abruptly and may remain fairly severe for several days. After that, they usually start to fade. But a sudden shifting or movement of the head may bring it back. Typically, this ailment doesn’t cause any pain. 

Some symptoms of labyrinthitis are vertigo, balance issues, and dizziness. nausea & vomiting, tinnitus, which causes ringing or buzzing in the ear, hearing loss in the high-frequency range in one ear, and Nystagmus (involuntary eye movements} are some other symptoms. Permanent hearing loss is a problem that occurs in extremely rare circumstances. 

What causes labyrinthitis? 

Anyone of any age can get affected by labyrinthitis, which can be brought on by several reasons, such as bronchitis, inner ear viral infections, stomach viruses, herpes virus, infectious organisms, such as the one that causes Lyme disease, and bacterial infections.  Labyrinthitis can also be caused by hepatitis, measlesrubellamumps and polio. In some rare instances, labyrinthitis may be caused by bacterial meningitis and a head injury.

When to visit the doctor? 

It is better to make an appointment to see the healthcare provider if one experiences labyrinthitis symptoms so that they can diagnose the root cause. A more severe condition may show the following symptoms. Consider the following signs to be an emergency and seek medical help right away: 

  • Fainting 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Fever  
  • Paralysis  
  • Weakness 
  • Numbness  


Which tests are going to be used to identify labyrinthitis? 

The healthcare professional needs to rule out any other disorders because many of them share the same symptoms as labyrinthitis. They might carry out the following tests to achieve this: 

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This examination takes precise pictures of the inside of your body using radio waves and strong magnets. The doctor may use an MRI to rule out the chances of a stroke
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG): The heart’s electrical activity is monitored throughout this test. It helps rule out the possibility of cardiovascular issues. 
  • Vestibular tests: The goal of these tests is to gauge how well the labyrinth/vestibulocochlear nerve functions in terms of balance. Your doctor or healthcare provider may use ENG to assess the problem in your vestibular system and determine the cause of the symptoms. 

What are the treatment options for labyrinthitis? 

Treatment for labyrinthitis is based on the underlying cause of the illness. For instance, if a virus causes a problem, the doctor will probably recommend antiviral drugs. If bacteria  are the causal agent, antibiotics will be administered. Additionally, corticosteroids may be suggested to lessen nerve inflammation, and nausea or vertigo-relieving drugs may be prescribed for a short period. 

After a few weeks, if the patient still experiences the symptoms, they may need vestibular rehabilitation activities to improve. One can retrain the brain with this kind of physical therapy to help cope with the vestibular imbalance. 

Are there home remedies to cope with labyrinthitis? 

Home remedies help lessen the discomfort caused by labyrinthitis. Also, the following preventive measures can be taken.  

Home remedies are as follows:

  • Apply a warm compress over the ears to ease discomfort
  • Meditation and mindfulness techniques may be used to relieve stress. 
  • A warm water gargle may help clear the passage that connects the middle ear and the throat. 

Preventive measures 

  • Quit smoking 
  • Consume less alcohol 


In most cases, labyrinthitis symptoms go away in one to three weeks, and the patient fully recovers in a few months. In the interim, dizziness and nausea may make driving, working, or engaging in sports challenging. As one heals, one may try to reintroduce these activities gradually. If, after several months, the symptoms don’t get better, the healthcare provider may decide to request more tests to rule out other problems. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Does labyrinthitis spread easily? 

No. It is impossible to spread labyrinthitis itself. It, however, could develop if one contracts the common cold or the flu from someone else.

How long can one be affected by labyrinthitis? 

Each person’s experience is unique. The majority of the time, labyrinthitis symptoms subside after a few days. The equilibrium may not return to normal for six weeks or more.

How can one lower the chances of getting labyrinthitis? 

The most straightforward approach to prevent labyrinthitis is to frequently wash the hands and take the necessary preventive measures during cold and flu season because cold and flu may lead to labyrinthitis.

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At Apollo, we believe that easily accessible, reliable health information can make managing health conditions an empowering experience. AskApollo Online Health Library team consists of medical experts who create curated peer-reviewed medical content that is regularly updated and is easy-to-understand.
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