Labyrinthitis is swelling and irritation in the inner ear. It occurs in the labyrinth of the ear, usually effecting the nerve. This is a system of cavities and canals. They effect hearing, balance, and eye movement.
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Labyrinthitis is caused by damage or impairment of the labyrinth part of the cochlea from:
  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • Inflammation
  • Drugs

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chances of labyrinthitis include:
  • Current or recent viral infection, especially a respiratory infection
  • Allergies
  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Stress
  • Head injury
  • Blood vessel disorders
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Side effects of drugs, including:
    • Certain antibiotics
    • Aspirin
    • Quinine—may be used for malaria treatment


The symptoms can range from mild to severe and last for days or many weeks. Symptoms are usually temporary, but rarely, can become permanent.The most common symptoms are:
  • A spinning sensation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Balance problems
Other symptoms may include:
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hearing loss
  • Involuntary eye movement
  • Ringing in the ear


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may also need an ear and/or a neurological exam.This can be done with:
  • Maneuvers for evaluating for other causes of lightheadedness
  • Hearing tests
Images help evaluate the ears or other structues. This can be done with:Your eyes may also be tested. This can be done with an electronystagmogram.

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