What is Labyrinthitis and its symptoms

Labyrinthitis is a problem with the inner ear, which is a part of the body that we need to balance. If you’re experiencing issues with your ears, including problems with your hearing, as well as other symptoms affecting areas such as balance then you might have labyrinthitis. This is a condition that can impact your ability to do everything, from working to driving, so it’s worth getting checked out by an ENT specialist as soon as you can.

What is labyrinthitis?

The labyrinth is a maze of fluid-filled channels that we all have in our inner ear. When this becomes inflamed we call it labyrinthitis. The symptoms of this condition are very similar to vestibular neuritis, as both involve inflammation in or around the ear and can affect balance. However, if you also have problems with your hearing then labyrinthitis is the most likely cause.

What are the symptoms of labyrinthitis?

  • Problems with your hearing that are recent and ongoing
  • Experiencing issues with your balance, for example feeling unable to stay upright or walk in a straight line.
  • A feeling like the room around you is spinning (vertigo) and/or dizziness.
  • Other physical symptoms, such as feeling sick - or being sick.
  • Tinnitus (this is experienced by most people as a ringing in the ears).

How are these symptoms experienced?

They are most likely to start suddenly and they may change every day during the day. For example, you may find that they are mild in the morning and then worsen as the day goes on. If you’re experiencing issues with your balance this will usually clear up in a couple of weeks. However, it could take up to six weeks, or longer, in some cases.

What to avoid if you’re experiencing labyrinthitis symptoms

If you’re struggling with dizziness, sickness etc then avoid drinking alcohol as this can make your symptoms a lot worse. It’s also not a good idea to drive, or to get on a bike, if you’re experiencing balance problems etc. Avoid operating any equipment, tools or heavy machinery.

How can you deal with labyrinthitis?

  • Take a break in a darkened room and away from bright lights and loud noises.
  • Lie down if you’re feeling dizzy.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and are properly hydrated. Especially if you’re being sick it’s important to drink plenty of water, as dehydration can make the symptoms worse.
  • Go out for walks as soon as you feel able. This will help to restore your confidence and strength. If you’re still feeling a little off-balance it might be a good idea to have someone with you. When you’re walking, it will help to keep your eyes focused on a fixed object, rather than roving around and looking at everything.
  • Get some medical support if your symptoms don’t start to get better after a few days - or are getting worse. If you have sudden hearing loss in one ear you may need an urgent appointment.

Labyrinthitis symptoms can be challenging but should pass within a few days - an ENT doctor can provide you with investigations and support if you’re struggling for longer.

Harley Street is the UK's foremost private medical centre which is dedicated to providing high-quality care for your ear, nose, throat, head & neck, and balance-related disorders. Find out more information on how Harley Street ENT can help you here.

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The Harley Street ENT clinic in London can provide all of the care that you need when you have an ear, nose, throat or balance problem. We ensure that you can get all of the right tests, treatments and advice in one convenient place.