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Alternative namesBacterial labyrinthitis; Serous labyrinthitis
DefinitionAn ear disorder involving inflammation (irritation and swelling with presence of extra immune cells) of the canals of the inner ear (semicircular canals, labyrinth), which causes dizziness .
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The cause of labyrinthitis is unknown, but because it commonly occurs following otitis media (ear infection) or an upper respiratory infection ( URI ), it is thought to be a consequence of viral or bacterial infection. It may also follow allergy , cholesteatoma , or the ingestion of certain drugs that are toxic to the inner ear.
Signs and testsAn ear examination may not reveal any changes.
Differentiation from other causes of dizziness or vertigo may include:
Labyrinthitis usually runs its course over a few weeks. However, symptoms may need treatment. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection. Medications that may reduce symptoms include the following:
To prevent worsening of symptoms during episodes of labyrinthitis, try the following:
Assistance with walking may be needed during attacks. Avoid hazardous activities such as driving, operating heavy machinery, and climbing until one week after symptoms have disappeared.
Expectations (prognosis)Recovery is usually spontaneous and hearing usually returns to normal.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if dizziness , vertigo , loss of balance , or other symptoms of labyrinthitis are present. Also call if hearing loss occurs.
Urgent or emergency symptoms include convulsions , fainting , persistent vomiting , or vertigo accompanied by fever of more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
PreventionPrompt treatment of respiratory infections and ear infections may help prevent labyrinthitis.
Update Date: 9/5/2002Jason Newman, M.D., Department of Otolaryngology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, Washington, DC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT