Vestibular Neuritis and Labyrinthitis

What is Vestibular Neuritis or Labyrinthitis?

Vestibular Neuritis

is an inflammation of the vestibular nerve which travels from the inner ear into the brain. It is a common cause of vertigo. The vestibular nerve is responsible for telling the brain information about your head movement and is important for your balance.

Vestibular Labyrinthitis

is an inflammation of the vestibular labyrinth which is the structure in which the entire inner ear system is located. Vestibular Labyrinthitis results in one sided hearing loss whereas vestibular neuritis does not.

What causes Vestibular Neuritis or Labyrinthitis?

Inflammation of the inner ear system is most commonly caused by a virus but can also be the result of a bacterial infection, head injury, extreme stress, an allergy or reaction to certain medications.

This means that the vestibular system does not send messages to the brain as well as it normally would, usually on one side only. This is referred to as ‘hypofunction’ and it happens on the side of the inflammation.

Diagnosing Vestibular Neuritis or Labyrinthitis

Your Vestibular Physiotherapist can do a series of tests with head and eye movement to help in the diagnosis of Vestibular Neuritis or Labyrinthitis.

Tests involving head movement and balance testing may be done to determine the presence of any abnormal eye movements and the presence of a weakness in the vestibular system.

These tests also involve ruling out any other potential causes of dizziness such as stroke and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).

Management of Vestibular Neuritis or Labyrinthitis

Management of these conditions initially involves medication to manage the acute dizziness.

Your Vestibular Physiotherapist can teach you specific head and eye movement exercises that help to restore the balance between your inner ears. These are called Gaze Stability exercises.