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Signs and Symptoms of Inner Ear Infection

written by: Kecia • edited by: dianahardin • updated: 2/28/2011

An inner ear infection can be a very uncomfortable medical condition. There are a few common inner ear infection symptoms that can help to determine the condition.

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    Labyrinthitis, more commonly known as an inner ear infection, is a disorder of the ear that typically occurs following a middle ear infection. It can be due to an upper respiratory infection or the flu. This condition happens when the labyrinth, a part of the inner ear, becomes inflamed and irritated. There are a few inner ear infection symptoms that can determine the ailment. If you have any of these, it is possible that you have an infection of the inner ear.

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    Inner Ear Infection Symptoms

    Vertigo is quite possibly the most common sign of an inner ear infection. It is important to note that vertigo is not the same as being dizzy, though dizziness is another of the popular inner ear infection symptoms. With vertigo, you feel like you are spinning around quickly when you are in fact standing still. Dizziness, on the other hand, is the feeling of being lightheaded or unsteady. Because the inner ear is the center of balance for the body, it can cause the affected person to stumble or fall.

    An inner ear infection can also cause irregular eye movements. This makes it difficult to focus on a task. Those suffering from this symptom should not drive while the involuntary movements are occurring. The infection can also cause the person to have temporary hearing loss or tinnitus, the ringing sensation of the ear, in the ear with the infection.

    If the vertigo or dizziness is prolonged or felt an extreme rate, it is possible that nausea and vomiting could occur. These are not exactly considered to be inner ear infection symptoms, yet they can occur along with the disorder.

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    Risk Factors for an Inner Ear Infection

    There are several things that can put a person more at risk of developing an inner ear infection. Drinking a large amount of alcohol is one such factor. Allergies are also a contributor to an infection of the ear. Other causes can include stress, smoking, recent illness and certain medications, both prescription and non-prescription.

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    Diagnosing an Inner Ear Infection

    If you are displaying any of all of the common inner ear infection symptoms, you may want to be seen by your family physician. Labyrinthitis can usually be determined based on a physical examination that includes looking inside the ear. There are no tests that can be done to diagnose an inner ear infection. However, certain exams, such as a CT scan or MRI of the head, may be performed to rule out other potential causes of the symptoms being experienced.

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    Inner Ear Infection Treatment

    There is no medication or other forms of treatment available for this condition. Medications can be given to reduce the inner ear infection symptoms that the patient is suffering from. Alternative remedies, such as slowly changing positions to decrease vertigo and getting plenty of rest can help relieve the discomfort until the situation is alleviated.