When thinking about their overall well-being, there is one thing many people often neglect to consider, and that is ear health. The thing is the ears are the most visible part of the hearing system and account for one of our five senses. As such, it is important that we take proper care of both our ears and hearing, as they play a crucial role in our overall health and quality of life.
Unfortunately, despite practicing proper ear hygiene, sometimes the ears can get infected or inflamed, affecting people’s ear health and hearing ability. In many cases, the infection and inflammation occur in the inner ear, leading to a disorder called labyrinthitis which can be quite uncomfortable. The good news is labyrinthitis usually gets better in a few weeks after following proper treatment.
If you want to know about this type of inner ear infection, read our post to learn more about its most common symptoms, main causes, diagnosis, and available treatment.
What Is Labyrinthitis?
Labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear system, commonly known as the labyrinth, which is responsible for your hearing and balance. When the inflammation occurs, your hearing and balance are affected, causing your brain to work harder to decode the information between your healthy labyrinth and your inflamed one.
Although this condition can affect both men and women of all ages, it is most common in adults between the ages of thirty and sixty. It is important to note that it rarely occurs in children.
People who suffer from labyrinthitis can experience the following symptoms:
- Loss of balance;
- Dizziness or vertigo;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Blurry vision;
- Tinnitus, which is ringing the ears;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Hearing loss in extreme cases.
For example, vertigo is probably the most common symptom of this inner ear disorder. It is a type of dizziness that makes you feel off balance and like you are spinning around, or that the surroundings are moving when in reality you aren’t. Not only can this interfere with your performance of daily activities, but it can also affect your hearing ability.
When it comes to determining the main causes of labyrinthitis, keep in mind that the disorder is mostly caused by a viral infection. However, sometimes the main cause can be a bacterial infection. These infections can occur as a result of:
- A cold or the flu;
- Respiratory illnesses like bronchitis;
- Herpes viruses;
- Stomach viruses;
- Bacterial infections.
Additionally, there are other factors that can also trigger labyrinthitis, such as smoking, increased levels of stress, excessive drinking, chronic exhaustion, and allergies.
Diagnosis and Tests:
If you experience any of the abovementioned symptoms, it is important that you seek immediate medical assistance from a healthcare specialist. The doctor will perform a thorough examination and order other additional tests to check your hearing and balance based on your symptoms and medical history.
Because the symptoms of labyrinthitis are similar to other medical conditions, your doctor may need to perform other examinations to ensure that what you are suffering from is really this inner ear disorder. Some of these tests can be magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electrocardiogram (EKG), and vestibular test battery.
In most cases, doctors do the vestibular test battery because it examines the balance part of your labyrinth which is closely related to the condition.
When it comes to treating labyrinthitis, it all depends on the main cause of the infection. For example, if the doctor determines that it is due to a viral infection, he will most likely give you antiviral medications to treat the condition. On the other hand, if your labyrinthitis is caused by bacteria, then you will be prescribed antibiotics.
In most cases, the symptoms of the disorder alleviate within several weeks after treatment and people achieve full recovery in a month or two.
In addition to medication, you can also help ease symptoms by resting on your side during dizzy episodes, drinking plenty of water, practicing yoga, and spending most of your time in a low-noise and low-stress environment.
No matter how well you take care of your ears and hearing, there is always the risk of suffering from labyrinthitis. This can lead to many unpleasant side effects that can affect your hearing, balance, and overall quality of life.
For more information on this ear disorder, refer to our post and learn everything you need to know about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of labyrinthitis.