Bacterial labyrinthitis; Serous labyrinthitis; Neuronitis - vestibular; Vestibular neuronitis; Viral neurolabyrinthitis; Vestibular neuritis; Labyrinthitis - vertigo: Labyrinthitis - dizziness; Labyrinthitis - vertigo; Labyrinthitis - hearing loss
Labyrinthitis is irritation and swelling of the inner ear. It can cause vertigo and hearing loss.
Labyrinthitis is usually caused by a virus and sometimes by bacteria. Having a cold or flu can trigger the condition. Less often, an ear infection may lead to labyrinthitis. Other causes include allergies or certain drugs that are bad for the inner ear.
Your inner ear is important for both hearing and balance. When you have labyrinthitis, the parts of your inner ear become irritated and swollen. This can make you lose your balance and cause hearing loss.
These factors raise your risk for labyrinthitis:
Symptoms may include any of the following:
Your doctor may give you a physical exam. You may also have tests of your nervous system (neurological exam).
Tests can rule out other causes of your symptoms. These may include:
Labyrinthitis usually goes away within a few weeks. Treatment can help reduce vertigo and other symptoms. Medicines that may help include:
Follow your health care provider instructions about taking care of yourself at home. Doing these things can help you manage vertigo:
You should avoid the following for 1 week after symptoms disappear:
A sudden dizzy spell during these activities can be dangerous.
In very rare cases, hearing loss is permanent.
Call your provider if:
Call 911 or your local emergency number if you have any of the following severe symptoms:
There is no known way to prevent labyrinthitis.
Baloh RW, Jen JC. Hearing and equilibrium. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 428.
Crane BT, Minor LB. Peripheral vestibular disorders. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2015:chap 165.
Ferri FF. Labyrinthitis. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2016:735.
Last reviewed on: 8/13/2015
Reviewed by: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.