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What is Labyrinthitis?

Labyrinthitis (pronounced LAB-uh-rin-THIE-tis) is an ear disorder involving inflammation of the semicircular canals of the inner ear (labyrinth). It usually occurs after an otitis media ear infection or an upper respiratory infection.

Labyrinthitis is also called bacterial labyrinthitis and serous labyrinthitis.

Symptoms of Labyrinthitis

Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • dizziness
  • vertigo
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of balance
  • hearing loss in the affected ear
  • ringing or other noises in the ears
  • involuntary eye movements

What causes Labyrinthitis?

The exact cause of labyrinthitis is unknown. However, researchers believe that it is a consequence of viral or bacterial infection. Labyrinthitis may also be a side effect of an allergy, cholesteatoma, or the ingestion of certain drugs that are toxic to the inner ear.

Can Labyrinthitis be Treated?

Yes. Treatments are aimed at decreasing the severity of the symptoms. Some common treatments are:

  • anti-histamines
  • anti-biotics
  • anti-cholinergics
  • sedative-hypnotics
  • anti-nausea medications
  • benzodiazepines
  • rest
  • avoidance of bright light

When to call your doctor

You should call your doctor if:

  • You develop a high fever.
  • You notice decreased hearing in either ear.
  • You develop vomiting that will not stop.
  • You have new or unexplained symptoms that may be caused by your medicine.

You should seek immediate care if you begin to have seizures or fainting spells.

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