Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear and a form of unilateral vestibular dysfunction. It derives its name from the labyrinths that house the vestibular system, which senses changes in head position. Labyrinthitis can cause balance disorders, hearing loss and tinnitus
Labyrinthitis is usually caused by a virus, but it can also arise from bacterial infection, head injury, extreme stress, an allergy or as a reaction to medication. Both bacterial and viral labyrinthitis can cause permanent hearing loss, although this is rare.
Labyrinthitis often follows an upper respiratory tract infection (URI).


Many times, you cannot determine the cause of labyrinthitis. Often, the condition follows a viral illness such as a cold or the flu. Viruses, or your body's immune response to them, may cause inflammation that results in labyrinthitis.

Other potential causes are these:
Trauma or injury to your head or ear
Bacterial infections: If found in nearby structures such as your middle ear, such infections may cause the following:
Fluid to collect in the labyrinth (serous labyrinthitis)
Fluid to directly invade the labyrinth, causing pus-producing (suppurative) labyrinthitis
Alcohol abuse
A benign tumor of the middle ear
Certain medications taken in high doses
Furosemide (Lasix)


The most common symptoms

-Loss of balance

Other possible symptoms
-A mild headache
-Tinnitus (a ringing or rushing noise)
-Hearing loss

These symptoms often are provoked or made worse by moving your head, sitting up, rolling over, or looking upward.

Symptoms may last for days or even weeks depending on the cause and severity.

-Symptoms may come back, so be careful about driving, working at heights, or operating heavy machinery for at least 1 week from the time the symptoms end.

-Rarely, the condition may last all your life, as with Meniere's disease. This condition usually involves tinnitus and hearing loss with the vertigo. In rare cases it can be debilitating.


Self-Care at Home

Lie still in a comfortable position, often flat on your side.
Reduce your salt and sugar intake.
Avoid chocolate, coffee, and alcohol.
Stop smoking.
Try to create a low-noise, low-stress environment.

Talk to your doctor about certain maneuvers or exercises (Brandt and Daroff exercises and Epley maneuver) that may speed your recovery. These positions attempt to rearrange tiny particles inside your ear and/or desensitize you to their effects.

Sit on the edge of your bed near the middle, with legs hanging down.
Turn your head 45° to your right side.
Quickly lie down on your left side, with your head still turned, and touch the bed with the portion of your head behind your ear.
Hold this position-and every following position-for about 30 seconds.
Sit up again.
Quickly turn your head 45° toward your left side and lie down on your right side.
Sit up again.
Do 6-10 repetitions, 3 times per day.

Medical Treatment
Depending on the cause of the labyrinthitis symptoms, the doctor likely will try one or more of the following therapies:

Meclizine (Antivert)
Diazepam (Valium)
Promethazine (Phenergan)
Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine)
An antibiotic (rarely)
An antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

Therapeutic maneuvers such as the Epley maneuver, if the doctor thinks benign positional vertigo-tiny stones bouncing around in the labyrinth-may be the cause. The Epley maneuver, developed by Dr. John Epley, is a movement of your head to move the stones a certain way to end the dizziness.


The only causes of labyrinthitis that you can try to avoid are accidents or trauma to your ear.