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Labyrinthitis is a disorder that affects the depths of the inner ear. The labyrinth is a component of the inner ear that assists in controlling a person's balance. This condition occurs when the labyrinth becomes inflamed and swollen.
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The exact cause of this condition is unknown. However, they can occur after a patient has had a bacterial infection or a viral infection. Infections, such as upper respiratory tract infections like colds or flues, can often trigger this condition. In less common cases, a middle ear infection that has healed may be the cause.
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Vertigo is the most common symptoms of this condition. When a patient is experiencing vertigo, they feel as if they are whirling or spinning around. This symptom often begins suddenly and typically one to two weeks after the patient has had a cold or the flu. Sometimes it can become so severe that the patient will feel nauseous and vomit. Vertigo will eventually go away over time, but it can take days or even weeks for some patients. Other symptoms can include ringing in the ears and hearing loss. These two symptoms typically resolve on their own within a few weeks.
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This condition is relatively easy to diagnose. A doctor will ask the patient about their symptoms and their medical history. They will ask the patient if they have had any viral or bacterial infections in the last two months, such as a cold or the flu. They will then conduct a physical exam and search for signs of a viral infection. They will also look to see if the labyrinth is inflamed. The doctor may also order blood work to rule out other medical conditions.
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In most cases, this condition will resolve itself without any medical treatment. In most cases, labyrinthitis recovery time takes several weeks. If a bacterial infection was thought to be the cause the patient may take a course of antibiotics. However, most cases occur due to a viral infection so antibiotics will not be effective. If the patient is experiencing moderate to severe nausea and vomiting during their labyrinthitis recovery time, the doctor may prescribe them medications to help control these symptoms.
If the patient's vertigo is particularly severe, bed rest will most often be recommended. The patient should also stand up very slowly and keep their head as still as possible. In most cases, severe vertigo will begin to decrease after two to three days. It is also important for patients to avoid potentially dangerous activities when they are experiencing vertigo. They should avoid activities like driving, walking up and down stairs, using tools and machinery, and all other similar activities. Patients should also avoid alcohol during episodes of vertigo.
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WebMD. (2008). Labyrinthitis – Topic Overview. Retrieved on January 23, 2010 from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/brain/tc/labyrinthitis-topic-overview