Saanichton, BC

Dr. Miguel A. Lipka

Labyrinthitis

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Labyrinthitis is a problem deep inside the inner ear. It happens when the labyrinth, a part of the inner ear that helps control your balance, gets swollen and inflamed.

The cause of labyrinthitis is not clear. Labyrinthitis can happen after a viral infection or, more rarely, after an infection caused by bacteria. It is often triggered by an upper respiratory infection, such as the flu or a cold. Less often, it may start after a middle ear infection.

Symptoms of labyrinthitis include:

  • Sudden vertigo. This makes you feel like you're spinning or whirling.
  • Temporary hearing loss.
  • A ringing sound in your ears (tinnitus).

Most often, these symptoms don't last for more than a few weeks.

With labyrinthitis, the vertigo begins without warning. It often starts 1 to 2 weeks after you've had the flu or a cold. It may be severe enough to make you vomit or make you feel sick to your stomach. Vertigo slowly goes away over a few days to weeks. But for a month or longer you may still get vertigo symptoms if you suddenly move your head a certain way. Symptoms of vertigo and dizziness may be caused by many problems other than labyrinthitis.

Most of the time, labyrinthitis goes away on its own. This normally takes several weeks. If the cause is a bacterial infection, your doctor will give you antibiotics. But most cases are caused by viral infections, which can't be cured with antibiotics. Your doctor may give you other medicines to help control the nausea and vomiting caused by vertigo.