Labyrinthitis is an inner ear disorder that is often overlooked, despite its potential to significantly impact an individual's quality of life.

Read More About The Condition
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Labyrinthitis is an inner ear disorder that is often overlooked, despite its potential to significantly impact an individual's quality of life. We aim to shed light on this condition, helping you understand its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

What is Labyrinthitis?

Labyrinthitis is an inflammatory condition that affects a delicate structure deep within the ear, known as the labyrinth. The labyrinth includes two critical parts: the cochlea, responsible for hearing, and the vestibular system, responsible for balance. Labyrinthitis primarily affects these two functions, often leading to symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, and hearing loss.

Labyrinthitis is typically caused by an infection within the inner ear, interrupting the normal functioning of the vestibular system.

Symptoms of Labyrinthitis

The symptoms of Labyrinthitis can vary from mild to severe, and they may appear suddenly, often intensifying throughout the day. The most common symptoms include:

  1. Dizziness and vertigo: This is a sensation of feeling off balance, often accompanied by a spinning feeling.
  2. Hearing loss: This can range from mild to total, often accompanied by tinnitus, a ringing or humming noise in the ear.
  3. Nausea or vomiting: This is similar to the feeling of seasickness.
  4. Pressure inside the ear: This often occurs alongside a feeling of fluid or pus leaking out of the ear.
  5. Ear pain: This can range from mild discomfort to severe pain.
  6. Fever: A high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above can often accompany labyrinthitis.
  7. Visual changes: This includes blurred vision or double vision.

It is crucial to seek immediate medical attention if symptoms such as severe headache, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in one part of your body, or changes in your usual walk are experienced.

Causes of Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis is typically caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The most common cause is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. The infection causes inflammation in the labyrinth, leading to various symptoms[^5^].

In some cases, labyrinthitis can also develop in individuals who have an underlying autoimmune condition.

Diagnosis of Labyrinthitis

Diagnosing labyrinthitis involves a thorough medical history, a physical examination, and possibly additional tests. Your healthcare provider will check your ears for signs of inflammation and infection and may conduct hearing tests.

In some cases, further testing like a lumbar puncture, CT scan, MRI scan, or blood tests may be required to rule out other serious conditions such as meningitis or a stroke.

Treatment Options for Labyrinthitis

The treatment for labyrinthitis primarily involves managing the symptoms. This often includes a combination of self-help techniques and medication.

Self-help Techniques

Self-help techniques can significantly reduce the severity of symptoms. These include:

  • Lying still during dizzy episodes
  • Drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • Avoiding noise, bright lights, and stressful situations
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Walking outside as soon as you can, with someone's assistance until you regain confidence


Depending on the severity of the symptoms, your healthcare provider may prescribe certain medications. These may include:

  • Corticosteroids: These help reduce inflammation in your inner ear.
  • Antiemetics: These can help stop nausea or vomiting.
  • Benzodiazepines: These reduce activity inside your central nervous system.
  • Antibiotics: These are prescribed if your labyrinthitis is caused by a bacterial infection.

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy

For chronic cases of labyrinthitis, an intensive type of treatment called Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) might be recommended. VRT attempts to "retrain" the brain and nervous system to compensate for the abnormal signals coming from the vestibular system.

VRT involves a range of exercises designed to improve balance, walking ability, strength, fitness, and coordination of hand and eye movements.

Complications of Labyrinthitis

Although rare, labyrinthitis can lead to permanent hearing loss, especially in children who develop bacterial labyrinthitis as a complication of the brain infection meningitis.

Due to this risk, it is recommended that individuals are given a hearing test once they have recovered from the infection.

Prevention of Labyrinthitis

As labyrinthitis is often caused by an infection, maintaining good hand hygiene can help prevent the spread of infections. However, there is no known definitive way to prevent labyrinthitis.

Living with Labyrinthitis

Living with labyrinthitis requires patience and understanding. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities, making it challenging to work, drive, or participate in sports.

It is important to ease back into these activities slowly as you recover.

When to Seek Help

Contact your healthcare provider if you do not notice any improvement after three weeks or if you develop additional symptoms that suggest your condition may be getting worse.

It is crucial to seek immediate medical attention if you experience severe headache, slurred speech, double vision, weakness, or numbness in one part of your body.


While labyrinthitis might sound intimidating, understanding the condition, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options can go a long way in managing it effectively.

Remember to reach out to a healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms, and don't hesitate to seek support from our audiologists at Southwest Balance.

"I was a bit nervous to have my hearing and balance tested. However, the doctors and staff made me feel comfortable. It was a comprehensive analysis of my hearing and balance. I am very grateful for the care that the doctors took in addressing all of my hearing and balance issues."
James E.
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Conveniently located near the intersection of 7th Street and Indian School Road.

Southwest Balance, Dizziness & Ear Institute (formerly Arizona Balance & Hearing Aids)

4004 N 7th St.Phoenix, AZ 85014