IntroductionLabyrinthitis is inflammation that affects the balance center in the inner ear. It commonly develops after a middle ear infection, upper respiratory infection, or allergies. The main symptoms are a false sense that the environment is moving and feeling off balance. Temporary hearing loss may occur. Labyrinthitis may go away on its own. Prescription medications may be used to reduce symptoms and fight infection.
The labyrinth is the inner ear structure that plays a role in hearing and balance. Part of the labyrinth is filled with a fluid called endolymph. Continual fluid production and reabsorption keep the level of endolymph ideal at all times. When you move your head, the fluid moves in the labyrinth. The fluid movement triggers a signal to your brain that lets you know that your body has moved and changed position. This all happens automatically.
Imaging tests, such as a computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans may be ordered to evaluate the structures inside of your ear. More than one type of hearing test may be conducted to identify if your hearing loss is related to an inner ear problem. Brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) is used to evaluate hearing and neurological functions. The test involves listening to sounds while a device records your brain’s activity.
Am I at Risk
People that smoke or drink large amounts of alcohol have an increased risk of labyrinthitis. Stress and fatigue may also contribute to the condition.
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