The labyrinth is the part of the inner ear that houses the vestibular system, which senses changes in head position. Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear that causes vertigo. It can occur as a single attack or as multiple attacks, or it can be a persistent condition. Labyrinthitis eventually subsides in about three to six weeks. While the cause of labyrinthitis is unclear, experts believe that viral or bacterial infections, extreme stress, head injury, or allergies are some possible causes. It may also be a side effect of some medications.
Approximately 30 percent of individuals who have labyrinthitis had a common cold before developing the condition. Some cases involving bacterial or viral infections result in permanent hearing loss, but that is rare. Labyrinthitis usually affects individuals who are thirty to sixty years old, regardless of race or gender. The condition affects about thirty-five people per million annually.
Labyrinthitis Symptom #1: Vertigo
Vertigo is a sensation of dizziness where an individual feels as if his or her surroundings are swaying or spinning when they are not, which can affect balance. Causes of vertigo include labyrinthitis, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), Meniere’s diseases, and migraine. Vertigo is also a possible side effect of certain medications. A vertigo attack can last several seconds, hours, days, or even months.
To ease vertigo symptoms, patients should lie still in a dark and quiet room, move their head slowly during activities, sit or rest if an attack starts, turn on lights at night, use a walking stick for extra support, sleep with more pillows to raise the head, get out of bed slowly, and relax. (Anxiety can worsen vertigo.)