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Labyrinthitis is an infection of the inner ear, specifically the labyrinth. Vestibular Neuritis is an infection of the vestibular nerve within the inner ear.

Your inner ear is made up of a system of fluid-filled tubes called the labyrinth. This includes your cochlea, which senses sound, and your vestibular system, which senses movement of your head and helps with balance. Your vestibular nerve passes through your inner ear, taking messages to your brain.



Symptoms can start suddenly and can be associated with flu-like symptoms such as a sore throat, runny nose or a fever.

The most common symptoms of Labyrinthitis are:

  • Dizziness or spinning sensations (Vertigo)
  • Unsteadiness and feeling off balance
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hearing loss, usually in the ear that is infected
  • Tinnitus
  • The symptoms of Vestibular Neuritis are very similar, but it does not cause hearing loss or tinnitus.

Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis can affect both adults and children, but they’re most common between the ages of 30 and 60.




There are various causes for Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis.

In the majority of cases, they are caused by a viral infection. However, in rarer cases it can be as a result of the following:

  • Bacterial infections, usually middle ear infection (otitis media) or meningitis, that spread to your inner ear. These are more common in children than in adults
  • Autoimmune conditions affecting your inner ear. This is a less common cause. If you have an autoimmune condition, your immune system mistakenly attacks some of your body’s healthy tissues, causing inflammation and damage
  • Damage to your inner ear, due to an underlying disease, such as meningitis, circulatory problems or Ménière’s disease.

How are they treated?

Most of the time, Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis will improve by themselves, with symptoms easing after a few days of rest at home and your balance returning over the next few weeks. Labyrinthitis or Vestibular Neuritis is usually caused by a viral infection, such as a cold or flu, so antibiotics will not help. However, your doctor can prescribe anti-sickness medicines to help with vertigo, nausea and vomiting. You usually only take these for a short period of time though as they may slow down your recovery.

How to manage in the first few days:

  • At first, when your vertigo and sickness are at their worst, you may want to rest in bed
  • When you have an attack of vertigo, it may help if you lie still and close your eyes until your symptoms go away
  • Avoid changing positions or making sudden movements initially
  • Avoid bright lights and loud noises
  • Drink plenty of water if you’re being sick – it’s best to drink little and often
  • Do not drive, cycle or use tools or machinery if you feel dizzy
  • Avoid alcohol – it can make symptoms worse
  • Try to get enough sleep – tiredness can make symptoms worse
  • Do try to be as active as you can as soon as possible because this will help you to recover more quickly. You may want to take someone with you on a walk if you feel unsteady.

Your symptoms may come and go while you’re recovering. Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis usually clear up on their own without any complications. Your vertigo should get better within a few days. But some people continue to feel unsteady even after the initial spinning and dizziness have gone away. This can last a long time – weeks or even months. It can make you more likely to fall over.

Sometimes, Labyrinthitis can cause permanent hearing loss. It can also cause lasting damage to the balance system in your inner ear. Whether or not this happens may depend on which type of Labyrinthitis you have. This is more likely to happen if you have a bad case of Bacterial Labyrinthitis.

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy

If you’re still feeling dizzy and unsteady after a few weeks, you may benefit from vestibular rehabilitation therapy. This involves doing a range of specially designed exercises to improve your balance. It may include exercises in which you move your head or eyes, and others to improve your balance while standing or walking.

These exercises teach your brain to use the information from your eyes, joints and muscles. This helps you balance, even though there is confusing information coming from your inner ear.

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy can help with your balance and walking, and make everyday activities easier.

Here at Hallamshire Physiotherapy Clinic, our specialist Physiotherapists are trained and experienced in managing and helping you to recover from Labyrinthitis or Vestibular Neuritis.

Your treatment will be specific to you as an individual, but will usually consist of the following:

  • VOR gaze stability exercises
  • Postural stability exercises
  • Gait re-education
  • Static and dynamic balance re-training.

We will also offer our expertise, guidance and support for as long as you need us on your road to recovery.

Call us on 0114 267 1233 to book an appointment with one of our specialist clinicians.

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