Labyrinthitis

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by Lori Wood, M.Sc., R.Aud Clinical Audiologist 

What is Labyrinthitis?

Lanyrinthitis is an inflammation of the membranous labyrinth of the inner. It can affect one or both ears.

What causes Labyrinthitis?

The causes of labyrinthitis include:

  • Infection – bacterial, viral, fungal
  • Autoimmune disease – Wegener’s Granulamatosis, Cogan’s Syndrome
  • Ototoxic drugs -gentamycin, ASA, diuretics, chemotherapy drugs
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Idiopathic causes

What are the symptoms of Labyrinthitis?

Symptoms of Labyrinthitis typically include loss of balance (vertigo), nystagmus (involuntary eye movement), nausea, hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and mild headaches.

How is Labyrinthitis diagnosed?

In order to diagnose Labyrinthitis, the following tests may be undertaken: Full audiometric assessment, videonystagmography (VNG), auditory brainstem response (ABR), and /or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

How is Labyrinthitis treated?

The treatment of Labyrinthitis is dependent on the cause:

  • Infection:
    • Bacterial: antibiotics to eradicate the underlying infection
    • Viral: corticosteroids in early stages to prevent permanent damage to the inner ear
  • Autoimmune disease: corticosteroids and/or immunosuppressive medications
  • Ototoxic drugs: reduce dosage and/or switch medications if possible
  • Meniere’s disease: medication to help alleviate nausea and symptoms of vertigo
  • Idiopathic: monitor and/or medication to alleviate vertigo and nausea