Labyrinthitis Symptoms, Causes, Types, Diagnosis, Treatment are connected to the ear infections. Ear infections are a common cause of earaches or ear pain, and they can occur in the outer, middle, and inner ear.
An outer ear infection can be caused by swimming, wearing hearing aids or headphones that damage the skin inside the ear canal, or by putting cotton swabs or fingers in the ear canal. Water softens the skin in the ear canal, which can create a breeding ground for bacteria.
A middle ear infection can be caused by infections that stem from a respiratory tract infection. Fluid buildup behind the eardrums caused by these infections can breed bacteria.
Labyrinthitis is an inner ear disorder that’s sometimes caused by viral or bacterial infections from respiratory illnesses.
Table of Contents
How do we hear?
- Sound waves enter the outer ear and travel through a narrow passageway called the ear canal, which leads to the eardrum.
- The eardrum vibrates from the incoming sound waves and sends these vibrations to three tiny bones in the middle ear. These bones are called the malleus, incus, and stapes.
- The bones in the middle ear amplify, or increase, the sound vibrations and send them to the cochlea, a snail-shaped structure filled with fluid, in the inner ear. An elastic partition runs from the beginning to the end of the cochlea, splitting it into an upper and lower part.
- This partition is called the basilar membrane because it serves as the base, or ground floor, on which key hearing structures sit.
- Once the vibrations cause the fluid inside the cochlea to ripple, traveling waveforms along the basilar membrane. Hair cells – sensory cells sitting on top of the basilar membrane – ride the wave.
- Hair cells near the wide end of the snail-shaped cochlea detect higher-pitched sounds, such as an infant crying. Those closer to the center detect lower-pitched sounds, such as a large dog barking.
- As the hair cells move up and down, microscopic hair-like projections (known as stereocilia) that perch on top of the hair cells bump against an overlying structure and bend.
- Bending causes pore-like channels, which are at the tips of the stereocilia, to open up. When that happens, chemicals rush into the cells, creating an electrical signal.
- The auditory nerve carries this electrical signal to the brain, which turns it into a sound that we recognize and understand.
Continue reading: Understanding High and Low-Frequency Hearing Loss >
Labyrinthitis: Symptoms, Causes, Types, Diagnosis, Treatment
Labyrinthitis is a type of inner ear condition that causes dizziness, a spinning sensation – Vertigo, and also problems with balance. Dizziness can cause acute nausea and vomiting, and the inflammation of the nerves in the inner ear causes Labyrinthitis. 
The inflammation leading to Labyrinthitis can be caused by an inner ear infection, and it has many of the same symptoms as an ear infection.
Symptoms of the Inner Ear Infection
- Spinning sensation
- Problems with balance or walking
- Hearing loss
- Earache or ear pain
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
Continue reading: Ear Infection – Risk Factors >
Causes of the Inner Ear Infection
One of the most common symptoms and causes of Labyrinthitis are viruses. Less commonly, the cause of an inner ear infection may be bacterial.
Most ear infections that affect the outer (swimmer’s ear, otitis externa, or outer ear infection) or middle ear (otitis media) are mild and go away within one to two weeks. Inner ear disorders can last longer.
Most ear infections are infections of the middle ear (otitis media). Symptoms of middle ear infection are slightly different from an inner ear infection and include ear pain, fever, and discharge from the ear canal.
Since otitis media commonly occurs with an upper respiratory infection (a “cold”), other symptoms include sinus pressure, sore throat, and runny nose.
Problems hearing out of the infected ear is more common in inner ear infections than in middle ear infections.
Inner ear infections also may cause symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, which usually are not symptoms of middle ear infections.
Medications may be prescribed to treat an inner ear infection, to reduce swelling and inflammation, to treat nausea and vomiting, and to help eliminate dizziness and vertigo (sensation of the room spinning). 
Continue reading: Hearing Loss Caused by Sinus Infections
When to see your doctor?
If you have symptoms of labyrinthitis, you should make an appointment to see your doctor and determine the cause. 
Doctors can generally diagnose labyrinthitis during a physical exam. In some cases, it’s not obvious during an ear exam, so a complete physical exam, including a neurological evaluation, should be performed.
Certain symptoms can be signs of a more serious condition. Consider these symptoms to be an emergency and seek medical attention immediately:
- slurred speech
- double vision
If you become dehydrated from severe vomiting, you may need medical treatment with intravenous (IV) fluids.
Continue reading: Ear Infection – Treatments and Drugs >