Do you suffer from ear problems, or have trouble hearing sometimes? Does your balance seem off lately, or are you dizzy for no apparent reason? Perhaps you have vestibular neuritis, which is also called labyrinthitis. This is an affliction that affects the vestibular nerve, which resides in the middle ear. It can cause many problems, and greatly affect a person's life in a negative way. Dizziness is the main symptom, although sometimes more severe side effects go along with it as well.
The cause of vestibular neuritis is not always very clear, although it's sometimes brought on by a viral infection. Other causes are upper respiratory infection, flu, or sometimes even a severe cold. Middle ear infection is rarely the cause, but also a possibility.
The main problem with vestibular neuritis is that it causes a person to experience dizziness or vertigo, due to the vestibular nerve being the main proponent of balance in our brain. If wrong messages are sent to the brain that motion is occurring when in fact it is not, dizziness is the result. This can happen at any time and is very dangerous to people that have jobs where they are required to move a lot, stay in high places, or drive a vehicle. In many cases the symptoms come and go without warning.
Vestibular neuritis is a very difficult condition to diagnose as well many people are thought to just have inner ear infections and are treated with antibiotics. After this course of treatment is finished and symptoms persist, normally an ENT specialist is required to find out the exact cause. An MRI is normally used to discover the problem, and other more serious diseases such as brain tumours need to be ruled out as well.
There are also other conditions that are sometimes mistaken for vestibular neuritis, such as benign positional vertigo which is the result of very small particles in the fluid of the inner ear. The particles loosely float around the ear canal, and disrupt the delicate balance receptors which in turn send erroneous signals to the brain. The symptoms are the same, although a slightly different cause is to blame.
What are the treatments for vestibular neuritis?
In many cases, little can be done except to provide relief with antihistamines, or antibiotics if the cause is from a bacterial infection. However in many cases steroids such as prednisone are used to combat vestibular neuritis, although many times no treatment is found that works. In these cases, time is the only way to find relief - by waiting until the symptoms of vestibular neuritis go away for good.
The final verdict is if you ever experience vertigo, dizziness, and a feeling of fullness in your inner ear on one side or the other, you should have it checked out right away. Most times it will be something easy to resolve, such as an infection or foreign matter in the ear. But since diagnosing vestibular neuritis is so difficult, be aware that further steps may be necessary to get to the truth of your inner ear problems. Don't give up find an ENT doctor that is willing to diagnose vestibular neuritis no matter what.