Labyrinthitis – Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, And Exercise

Although the term ‘labyrinthitis’ may sound unfamiliar, this medical condition affects many people throughout their lifetime. This condition is a disorder of the inner ear, and it can cause permanent hearing loss in rare cases. If you are experiencing a dull ring in your ears or have been feeling slightly disoriented for a while, you could be suffering from labyrinthitis. To know more about this medical condition and its treatment options, read on.

Table Of Contents

  • What Is Labyrinthitis?
  • Signs And Symptoms
  • Causes And Risk Factors
  • Vestibular Neuritis Vs. Labyrinthitis Vs. BPPV
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment Methods
  • Natural Remedies To Treat Labyrinthitis
  • Prevention Tips
  • Exercises For Labyrinthitis

What Is Labyrinthitis?

Labyrinthitis is a disorder of the inner ear. Your inner ear has two vestibular nerves that send information to your brain about your spatial navigation and balance control. The inflammation of any of these vestibular nerves leads to the development of labyrinthitis.

While this condition usually doesn’t cause pain, it can cause other symptoms that may continue to be intense for a few days before fading. Also, there is always a chance of these symptoms resurfacing if you ever happen to move your head all of a sudden.

The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of labyrinthitis.

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Signs And Symptoms

  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Vertigo – a sensation that you are moving when you are actually not
  • Nausea
  • Loss of hearing in one ear
  • Vomiting
  • Tinnitus – Ringing/buzzing in one ear
  • Difficulty in keeping your eyes focused

In rare cases, the affected individual might also experience permanent hearing loss.

Are you wondering what could be responsible for causing this condition? Let’s find out.

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Causes And Risk Factors

While labyrinthitis can occur at any age, there are many factors that can contribute to its development like:

  • Viral or bacterial infections of the inner or middle ear
  • Respiratory diseases like bronchitis
  • Herpes viruses
  • Stomach viruses
  • Infectious microorganisms like the ones that cause Lyme disease

Other factors that can increase your risk of developing labyrinthitis are:

  • Smoking tobacco
  • Alcohol abuse
  • A history of allergies
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Extreme stress
  • Taking prescription medications or over-the-counter medications like Aspirin

The treatment of labyrinthitis is done in accordance with its symptoms and diagnosis.

Before moving on to the treatment options, let’s address the confusion individuals often have between labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis, and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.

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Vestibular Neuritis Vs. Labyrinthitis Vs. BPPV

Vestibular Neuritis

  • It is caused by a viral infection of the vestibular nerve that causes the nerve to become inflamed.
  • It is caused by the virus belonging to the Herpes family.
  • It is rarely painful.
  • Its symptoms are similar to that of labyrinthitis and may include dizziness, vertigo, imbalance, or nausea.

Labyrinthitis

  • It can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection (bacterial labyrinthitis) that results in inflammation of one or both vestibular nerves.
  • It is mostly caused by viruses, but it can also be caused due to bacterial infections.
  • It is rarely painful.
  • Its symptoms include dizziness, vertigo, imbalance, nausea, and difficulty in hearing.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

  • Usually, the cause of BPPV is not known. In this case, this condition is referred to as idiopathic BPPV.
  • It is the most common cause of vertigo and is usually a result of a minor/severe blow to your head.
  • It may cause pain in some individuals.
  • Its symptoms are dizziness, loss of balance, nausea, vertigo, and vomiting. These symptoms are more or less similar to that of labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis.

Meniere’s disease is another inner ear disorder that causes symptoms of vertigo.

It is not your fault if you are confused as to which of the above conditions you are actually suffering from as their symptoms are alike. This is where a medical diagnosis comes to your rescue.

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Diagnosis

Your doctor may first begin with a physical exam to detect your condition. Only an ear exam might not be sufficient in a few cases. You may be required to take a complete physical exam, including a neurological exam.

Since the symptoms of labyrinthitis are similar to that of a few other medical conditions, you may further be advised to take other tests based on your symptoms. Such tests may include:

  • Hearing tests
  • Blood tests
  • CT or MRI scan
  • A brain wave test called electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • An eye movement test called electronystagmography

Once your condition is successfully determined, you can opt for a treatment method accordingly.

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Treatment Methods

Your doctor is most likely to prescribe the following medications if you are suffering from labyrinthitis.

  • Antihistamines like Desloratadine
  • Medications to reduce dizziness and nausea like Meclizine
  • Sedatives like Diazepam
  • Corticosteroids like Prednisone

Those who have an active infection may further be recommended to take oral antibiotics.

The following are some natural home remedies that can help alleviate symptoms of labyrinthitis.

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How To Treat Labyrinthitis Naturally

  1. Essential Oils
  2. Ginkgo Biloba
  3. Ginkgo Biloba
  4. Garlic Oil
  5. Turmeric
  6. Vitamins

Natural Remedies To Treat Labyrinthitis

1. Essential Oils

a. Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 2-3 drops of tea tree oil
  • Hot water
  • A bowl
What You Have To Do
  1. Fill a large bowl with hot water.
  2. Pour three drops of tea tree oil into the bowl.
  3. Cover your head with a blanket and bend over the bowl.
  4. Inhale the warm steam for a few minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this once daily or every alternate day.

Why This Works

Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties (1). These properties can help in alleviating the symptoms of labyrinthitis by fighting the microbial infection causing it.

b. Lavender Oil

Lavender Oil

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 2-3 drops of lavender oil
  • A cup of warm water
  • Cotton balls
What You Have To Do
  1. Add two to three drops of lavender oil to a cup of warm water.
  2. Dip a cotton ball into this solution.
  3. Lie down and place this cotton ball in the affected ear.
  4. Remove after 5-10 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this once daily.

Why This Works

Lavender oil has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties (2). These can be beneficial in soothing the inflamed vestibular nerve of your ear.

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2. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba

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You Will Need

60-120 mg of ginkgo biloba supplement

What You Have To Do

Take 60-120 mg supplement of ginkgo biloba as per the instructions provided by your doctor.

How Often You Should Do This

You can take this supplement 2 to 3 times daily after consulting your physician.

Why This Works

Ginkgo biloba can help in reducing the damage caused to your vestibular nerves. It can also act as an adjuvant therapy to the antibiotics you are on (3).

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3. Ginger

Ginger

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 1-2 inches of sliced ginger
  • 1 cup of hot water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add 1 to 2 inches of sliced ginger to a cup of hot water.
  2. Steep for 5 to 10 minutes and strain.
  3. Drink the warm tea.
  4. You can also dip a cotton ball into this solution and place it in the affected ear.
How Often You Should Do This

You can drink 2 cups of ginger tea daily.

Why This Works

Ginger possesses anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties (4). These properties can help alleviate inflammation of the vestibular nerve and fight infections. Ginger can also reduce vertigo symptoms (5).

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4. Garlic Oil

Garlic Oil

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 1-2 drops of organic garlic oil
  • A dropper
  • Cotton
What You Have To Do
  1. Using a dropper, put a drop of garlic oil into each ear.
  2. Plug your ears using cotton.
  3. You can also apply another drop of garlic oil around and behind your ears.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Garlic oil possesses significant antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate the symptoms of labyrinthitis (6), (7).

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5. Turmeric

Turmeric

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 glass of hot milk (almond milk or rice milk)
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of hot milk.
  2. Drink the turmeric milk.
How Often You Should Do This

Drink this mixture once daily, preferably every night.

Why This Works

The curcumin in turmeric exhibits significant anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties that can help in reducing inflammation of the vestibular nerve and combating the infection causing it (8).

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6. Vitamins

Vitamins

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Deficiencies in vitamins D and B6 can worsen the symptoms of labyrinthitis like fatigue, nausea, and vertigo (9), (10). Hence, it is necessary that you consume foods rich in these vitamins like poultry, eggs, lean meat, green leafy vegetables, fish, and cheese. You can also take additional supplements for these vitamins after consulting your healthcare provider.

Physical therapy or practicing some basic exercises can also help in relieving the symptoms of labyrinthitis. Here are some exercises that may help.

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Exercises For Labyrinthitis

1. March Walk

March with your arms out and away from your sides while taking a step forward. This can help you regain your balance.

Repetitions

20 steps

Sets

2

2. Walk Heel-To-Toe

This requires you to walk as if you are walking across a beam on the floor by placing the heel of one of your feet in front of the toe of the other. This, again, helps with balance issues.

Duration

Balance on each foot for at least 15 seconds.

Repetitions

10 to 15 steps

3. Balance On One Foot

Using a wall or chair for support, stand on one foot for a few seconds. Repeat with
the other foot.

Duration

Balance on each foot for at least 15 seconds.

Repetitions

10 to 15

In addition to these exercises and remedies, here are some tips that can help prevent recurrences of labyrinthitis.

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Prevention Tips

  • Avoid making quick changes to your position.
  • Sit still if you are experiencing a vertigo attack.
  • Be careful while getting up from a seated or lying position.
  • Avoid using your television, computer screens, or any kind of bright light during a vertigo attack.
  • If vertigo occurs while you are sleeping, get up slowly and sit. Keep the lights dim.

These tips and remedies will definitely help you deal with the symptoms of labyrinthitis to a large extent and can reduce their intensity over time.

If you have any more queries regarding labyrinthitis, feel free to get in touch with us in the comments section below.

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Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Which is the best sleeping position for labyrinthitis?

Those suffering from labyrinthitis and vertigo symptoms should sleep with their head elevated slightly using wedge pillows.

How long does labyrinthitis last?

Labyrinthitis usually goes away in a few days without causing any complications. However, its symptoms may last for weeks or even months in some cases before disappearing.

Will labyrinthitis come back?

Yes, labyrinthitis is a recurring condition.

How do you get labyrinthitis?</p?

Labyrinthitis usually occurs as a result of a bacterial or viral infection that spreads from the chest, nose, mouth, or airways to the inner ear.

What are the foods that must be avoided while you are suffering from labyrinthitis?

Avoid too much sugar, salt, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and processed foods as they can worsen your symptoms.

Is BPPV completely different from Labyrinthitis?

While BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo, labyrinthitis causes symptoms of vertigo, along with other symptoms like hearing loss. The other symptoms exhibited by these conditions are often similar. Meniere’s disease is another inner ear disorder that causes symptoms of vertigo.

References

1. “Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties” Clinical Microbiology Reviews, US National Library of Medicine
2. “Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil” Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, US National Library of Medicine
3. “Effect of Ginkgo biloba extract on endotoxin-induced labyrinthitis” International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, US National Library of Medicine
4. “Vertigo-reducing effect of ginger root. A controlled clinical study” Journal for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology and Its Related Specialities, US National Library of Medicine
5. “Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence” International Journal of Preventive Medicine, US National Library of Medicine
6. “Antimicrobial Properties of Garlic Oil against Human Enteric Bacteria: Evaluation of Methodologies and Comparisons with Garlic Oil Sulfides and Garlic Powder” Applied and Environmental Microbiology, US National Library of Medicine
7. “Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds” Journal of Immunology Research, US National Library of Medicine
8. “The Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects of Curcumin in Middle Ear Infection” Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, US National Library of Medicine
9. “Antivertiginous action of vitamin B 6 on experimental minocycline-induced vertigo in man” Arzneimittelforschung, US National Library of Medicine
10. “Vitamin D deficiency and benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo” Medical Hypotheses, US National Library of Medicine

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