The inner ear, also known as the labyrinth, is responsible for both hearing and balance. The labyrinth consists of two main parts:
Both the cochlea and vestibular system send information to the brain via the vestibulocochlear nerve.
Labyrinthitis is an infection of the inner ear. It causes inflammation that can affect the structures of this part of the ear and disrupt the flow of sensory information from the ear to the brain. This disruption can result in a range of symptoms, including dizziness, vertigo, and even hearing loss.
Viral infections are the most common cause of labyrinthitis, but the condition can sometimes result from a bacterial infection.
While both types of infection can cause similar symptoms, bacterial labyrinthitis is generally more severe than viral labyrinthitis. The treatments for the two are very different, so it is important that a person gets the correct diagnosis from a doctor.
Anyone can develop labyrinthitis, but some conditions can increase the risk. These include:
Other factors that may increase the likelihood of labyrinthitis include:
The symptoms of labyrinthitis can appear suddenly and without warning. Some people with this infection may experience symptoms that last for a few weeks but then disappear on their own.
However, other people may experience long-term or reoccurring symptoms that appear when they move their head suddenly.
Symptoms of labyrinthitis include:
There are several different types of labyrinthitis, which we cover in more detail below.
Most cases of labyrinthitis are due to viral infections, such as a cold or the flu, spreading to the inner ear. Viral labyrinthitis typically results in sudden vertigo, nausea, and vomiting. Sometimes, it also leads to hearing loss.
Viral labyrinthitis usually goes away on its own. Medications for this form of labyrinthitis aim to relieve symptoms, such as dizziness and nausea.
There are two main types of bacterial labyrinthitis:
Also called toxic labyrinthitis, serous labyrinthitis commonly results from a bacterial infection in the middle ear, which doctors refer to as chronic otitis media (COM). COM causes a fluid buildup in the middle ear, which can progress to the inner ear if a person does not receive treatment.
Serous labyrinthitis is the less severe type of bacterial labyrinthitis, and hearing loss only affects high-frequency sounds. The symptoms of serous labyrinthitis include:
This form of labyrinthitis occurs when bacteria in the middle ear enter the inner ear. The symptoms are more severe than those of serous labyrinthitis, and they typically affect just one of the ears.
Symptoms of suppurative labyrinthitis include:
There are no specific tests to diagnose labyrinthitis. A doctor will usually carry out a thorough physical examination and neurological evaluation to rule out any other conditions, such as:
Rarely, structural abnormalities inside a person’s head can cause symptoms of labyrinthitis. To rule these out, a doctor may recommend imaging tests,
Conium Maculatum is an effective medicine for labyrinthitis with marked vertigo. In most cases where Conium Maculatum works effectively, vertigo gets worse when turning the head or when lying down. In some cases, turning in the bed or rising from a seat can also worsen vertigo. Along with vertigo, there may be a pressure in the head and stopped sensation in the ears.
Gelsemium Sempervirens is a natural medicine for labyrinthitis when dizziness and balance issues are the main symptoms. Lightheadedness that gets worse from walking is majorly noted in people who need this medicine. There are balance issues, and the person staggers while walking. Along with this head, there may be a heaviness in the head along with a blurred vision.
Kali Mur is a natural cure for labyrinthitis that works well in cases where there is a feeling of fullness in the ears. Along with fullness, crackling noises in the ear may be present. There may be ear discharges.
Chininum Sulph is a natural remedy for labyrinthitis with marked noises in the ear (tinnitus). These noises in the ear may be roaring, ringing or buzzing in nature. There may be vertigo that gets worse upon stooping. Difficulty in hearing is another attending feature in most cases.
Cocculus Indicus is a well-indicated remedy for labyrinthitis when nausea and vomiting appear prominently. The other prominent symptom accompanying nausea and vomiting is dizziness or vertigo. Vertigo is worse when sitting up. Roaring, ringing in the ear, loss of balance and hardness of hearing are rest symptoms that may attend.
Pulsatilla offers natural treatment for labyrinthitis when there is the presence of an ear discharge along with other symptoms. The discharge in most cases is thick yellow or pus-like. Frequent ear infections are common in individuals needing this remedy. Other symptoms are vertigo with nausea, vertigo, especially when rising from the bed, hearing difficulty and humming noises in the ear. Pain in the ear, especially during the night, is another prominent symptom.