Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Inner Ear Infection Overview

Another name for Inner Ear Infection is Labyrinthitis.

What is labyrinthitis?
A person with labyrinthitis has inflammation of the inner ear, which is called the labyrinth. This structure senses changes in body position, and this information is sent to the brain. The labyrinth helps the body maintain balance and equilibrium. When the labyrinth becomes inflamed, it sends the wrong signals to the brain. These abnormal signals cause confusion with other messages that the brain receives about balance and equilibrium. In most cases, the cause of the inflammation is unknown, but causes include ear injuries, head injuries, or viral infections.

What are the symptoms of labyrinthitis?
The most common symptom of labyrinthitis is vertigo, which is a sensation that your surroundings are moving, or the sensation that you are spinning while you are still. The vertigo is worse with movement of the head. Additional symptoms of labyrinthitis include blurry vision, difficulty with balance, ear pain, hearing loss, nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears and a sensation of pressure in an ear.

How does the doctor treat labyrinthitis?
The treatment for labyrinthitis depends on the underlying cause. Treatment for labyrinthitis may include rest, a walker, antibiotics, and medications for dizziness and nausea. Additional treatment may include antiviral medications.

Continue to Inner Ear Infection Risk Factors

Last Updated: Feb 10, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Inner Ear Infection References
  1. Halmagyi GM. Diagnosis and management of vertigo. Clin Med. 2005 Mar-Apr;5(2):159-65. [15847010]
  2. Hyden D. Mumps labyrinthitis, endolymphatic hydrops and sudden deafness in succession in the same ear. ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 1996 Nov-Dec;58(6):338-42. [8958544]
  3. Lemajic-Komazec S, Komazec Z. Initial evaluation of vertigo. Med Pregl. 2006 Nov-Dec;59(11-12):585-90. [17633903]
  4. Stokroos RJ, Albers FW, Tenvergert EM. Antiviral treatment of idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss: a prospective, randomized, double-blind clinical trial. Acta Otolaryngol. 1998 Jul;118(4):488-95. [9726671]
  5. Swartz R, Longwell P. Treatment of vertigo. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Mar 15;71(6):1115-22. [15791890]
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