Definition

Labyrinthitis is a disease in which the otic capsule becomes inflamed. It’s caused by bacteria or viruses that attack the cochlea and vestibular system in the inner ear.

Sensorineural hearing loss (which is usually permanent), vertigo, and disequilibrium (balancing issues) are common symptoms, which can affect one or both ears.

It can also be categorised as suppurative or serous. Suppurative (bacterial) labyrinthitis is a bacterial infection of the inner ear that causes severe to profound hearing loss (which is generally permanent) and vertigo.

Serous (viral) labyrinthitis is a kind of labyrinthitis that causes just labyrinth inflammation. Hearing loss & vertigo are less severe than with suppurative labyrinthitis, or the hearing loss usually recovers.

Background

The inner ear, or labyrinth, is affected by labyrinthitis, which is an inflammatory illness. This disorder causes varied degrees of balance and hearing problems in one or both ears, according on clinical findings.

Infections of the labyrinth can be caused by bacteria or viruses, which can cause acute inflammation. Labyrinthitis can also be brought on by autoimmune mechanisms. Acute labyrinthine dysfunction that looks like labyrinthitis can be caused by vascular ischemia.

What is the Difference between Labyrinthitis or Vestibular Neuritis?

Different portions of your inner ear are affected by labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis. The labyrinth is a system of fluid-filled tubes that makes up your inner ear.

This includes your cochlea, which detects sound, as well as your vestibular system, which detects head movement and aids with balance. Your vestibular nerve sends information to your brain through your inner ear.

  • Only your vestibular nerve is affected by vestibular neuritis. This results in vertigo (the sense that you or the objects around you are spinning) and balance issues.
  • When you have labyrinthitis, your labyrinth is compromised as well, causing hearing loss and balance issues.
Difference Between Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis | Causes of Labyrinthitis
Labyrinthitis 
Adults and children can have labyrinthitis and vestibular neuritis, although they’re most frequent in people between the ages of 30 and 60.

What is the Function of the Labyrinth?

In the inner ear is a labyrinth. The cochlea, vestibule, and semicircular canals are all located within the inner ear. The labyrinth is a system of thin fluid-filled canals that runs through these little shell-like formations.

The semicircular canals detect head movement and aid in balancing and maintaining proper posture. Hearing is what the cochlea is all about.

Three semicircular canals exist (anterior, lateral and posterior). These are nearly at right angles to one another and detect movement in a variety of directions, including left-right, forward-back, and up-down head motions.

The semicircular canals are linked to the vestibule, a larger fluid-filled chamber that is connected to the cochlea’s fluid-filled canal.

Head motions are detected because the fluid in the labyrinth within the semicircular canals shifts as you move your head. The fluid’s flow moves microscopic hairs on the labyrinth’s interior lining.

The movement of the hairs causes nerve messages to be delivered to the brain via the vestibular nerve. Even when your eyes are closed, this provides information to your brain regarding the movement and position of your head.

What you perceive, as well as nerve transmissions from your joints and muscles, assist in informing your brain about your position and posture. A well-functioning labyrinth in each ear, on the other hand, is required for appropriate posture and balance.

Causes

The labyrinth, a system of loopy tubes and sacs in your inner ear, is a system of loopy tubes and sacs. A small amount of fluid and hair cells are contained within it. Your balance and hearing are also controlled by it. Information flowing from this location to your brain might be disrupted by illness.

Difference Between Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis | Causes of Labyrinthitis
Labyrinthitis 

Viral infections are the most prevalent cause of vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis, which can be caused by a systemic virus like influenza (‘the flu’) or herpes viruses, which cause chickenpox, shingles, and cold sores.

Bacterial labyrinthitis can develop as a result of an untreated middle ear infection or, in rare circumstances, meningitis.

The infections that cause vestibular neuritis and labyrinthitis may clear up on their own within a few weeks without therapy.

If the infection causes lasting damage to the inner ear and the brain is unable to cope, symptoms might include chronic dizziness, weariness, disorientation, tinnitus, and hearing loss (if labyrinthitis is the cause).

Symptoms

Labyrinthitis symptoms appear fast and might last for days. After then, they normally go away, although they may reappear if you move your head unexpectedly. In most cases, this ailment is painless.

The following are examples of symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Uneven distribution of weight
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing sensation in the ear.
  • Hearing loss in one ear, particularly in the high-frequency spectrum
  • Inability to concentrate your vision
Difference Between Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis | Causes of Labyrinthitis
Labyrinthitis 

Permanent hearing loss is a possibility in extremely rare circumstances.

What is the Procedure for Diagnosing Labyrinthitis?

Your medical professional will inquire about your medical history. A physical examination may also be required. Hearing and balance exams may be part of this process. It will also entail a nervous system exam.

Dizziness and vertigo can be caused by a variety of neurological and other health issues. These may need to be ruled out by your healthcare physician.

Labyrinthitis is not diagnosed with a test. However, your doctor may request that you undergo an imaging test. This can aid in ruling out other possibilities for your symptoms, such as a stroke.

You might be subjected to tests like:

  • MRI. To rule out stroke, this is done.
  • ECG or other cardiovascular testing These can be used to rule out the possibility of a heart attack or stroke.
  • Electronystagmography (ENG) or videonystagmography are two different types of electronystagmography (VNG). Your eye movement is captured by these devices. This assists in determining the precise location of the issue in your vestibular system and determining the cause of your balance impairment.

What’s the treatment for labyrinthitis?

High-dose oral steroids are used to treat labyrinthitis, much like they are for acute sensorineural hearing loss.

Difference Between Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis | Causes of Labyrinthitis
Labyrinthitis 

Steroids are frequently used to treat labyrinthitis-related hearing loss, but their impact on dizziness and vertigo is less well understood. In addition to steroids, medications to treat nausea and vomiting are frequently recommended.

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