Labyrinthitis - An Inner Ear Condition Which Can Cause Balance Loss

Date March 12, 2018

Keeping our balance refers to the skill of maintaining our upright position, whether while standing still or in motion. As you probably already know, the inner ear is one of the organs of the vestibular system, in charge of keeping the entire body balances. Today, we want to talk about a disease which attacks this part of the hearing system: Labyrinthitis.

Labyrinthitis is a little-known disease, considered to be part of the group of balance conditions. The loss of balance is possibly one of the most severe and serious symptoms of the disease. It consists of the inflammation — hence the suffix "-itis" — and irritation of the inner ear.

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Why do we lose balance when we have labyrinthitis?

The vestibular system is made up of a series of parts which, collectively, receive a series of stimuli and send information to the brain, so that we can keep our balance.

When we have labyrinthitis, the liquid of the system's semicircular canal — in charge of telling the brain in which direction the head has moved — changes its composition. When this occurs, the signals it sends to the brain become scrambled and the body begins experiencing balance problems.

Causes of labyrinthitis

Although there may be other factors which lead to labyrinthitis, the most important cause is the infection of the inner ear. This may be caused by bacteria or a virus. This infection may also be the result of the same process, but via the airways.

This inner ear condition can also be caused by some medications, especially those which contain acetylsalicylic acid. It has also been proven that some emotional conditions such as stress may be indicators of this condition.


As we've already mentioned, loss of balance is one of the main symptoms of labyrinthitis. However, there are many others which we should also be aware of, firstly because it will help us to distinguish this condition from others, and also to be able to seek help and access treatment as soon as possible.

  • dizziness and vertigo;
  • involuntary eye movement;
  • hearing loss — deafness;
  • earache;
  • ringing in the ears;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • blurry vision;
  • fever.

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How to treat the infection

The key to any illness is seeking medical attention, where a specialist can recommend the appropriate treatment and medication. However, there is some advice to get better soon and guarantee your physical integrity.

  1. Drink plenty of fluids. Any infection in the body is always improved by taking on fluids, especially water. Another way in which liquids aid recovery is by preventing dehydration which can cause vomiting and fever.
  2. Get plenty of rest. Symptoms tend to be most severe during the first few days of the illness. Because of this, it's important to stay at home and rest. This way, we can prevent feelings of dizziness and vertigo which can make us fall.
  3. Stay calm during a crisis. If, for some reason, you have to go out and experience dizziness or vertigo, it's best to stay calm, wait for the symptoms to pass, and go back home to rest.
  4. Avoid loud noises and bright lights. If you're going to stay home, this advice is easy to follow. With these steps, you'll avoid losing balance due to bright lights or intense pain that can be caused by loud noises.

Danger of the illness

As you can see, the illness probably isn't life-threatening, but it does involve a series of symptoms which can put your health at risk. Falls due to vertigo or dizziness can be dangerous, especially if we're outside.

This illness can also cause fever, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms can lead to dehydration if not treated in time. This may require a hospital visit.

Still, people usually recover from deafness, but if not treated in time, this hearing loss can become permanent.

Understanding the symptoms of labyrinthitis can help you to make the early decision to visit your doctor and avoid the dangers of the associated symptoms. Remember that a specialist is the right person to help you make a full recovery.

Source: Medline Plus, NIH

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This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.