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What is vestibular neuritis?

The inner ear is transmitting signals to the brainthrough the vestibulo - cochlear nerve. If this nerve gets inflamed,it may cause feelings of nausea, dizziness, and imbalance. Thiscondition is known as vestibular neuritis. In most cases, only oneear is affected by vestibular neuritis.


Dizziness related to some problem in the inner earsuch as vestibular neuritis frequently comes out of nowhere, but itis also common to experience dizziness immediately after a personwakes up in the morning. Symptoms related to vestibular neuritis suchas an intense vertigo may last for days on end. Other symptomsrelated to vestibular neuritis include vomiting and nausea, imbalance(which causes problems when sitting, standing and walking) anddifficulty in concentrating. If hearing problems such as a buzzing inthe ears or a hearing loss are experienced alongside these symptoms,than it might be a condition known as labyrinthitis.


This conditionusually emerges after a viral infection such as flu or a cold, soviruses are usually blamed for causing vestibular neuritis. Still,some people are affected by vestibular neuritis, but hadneither flu nor a cold, so there other causes of vestibular neuritisother than viruses. Symptoms that affected persons experience arecaused by the 'wrong' signals that are being sent to the brain by theinflamed and swollen nerve. 'Wrong' signals tell the brain that thebody is moving even when it is not. So, on one end, brain is toldthat there is movement. Meanwhile, input from the eyes tells thebrain that the body is not moving – or that it is moving in anotherdirection. These signals are contradictory and confuse the brain,causing imbalance and sensation of dizziness – it seems that thespace around the person is spinning.

Diagnosis and treatment

Medical assistance should be sought as soon as youexperience the described symptoms. Diagnosis is based on looking atthe symptoms and MRI scan and examination of the patients' eyemovements if the symptoms are not conclusive. Primary form oftreatment is a couple of days of complete rest in bed, and it isadvised to keep the head as still as possible or at least to avoidany quick or sudden head movements. Balance exercises are used inorder to learn to control the symptoms. Medications such asantihistamines or corticosteroids might soothe the inflammation andthe doctor might recommend their use. The inflammation usuallyresolves within a few weeks and there is rarely any permanent damage.If the symptoms last for months then the patient must undergo aprocess known as compensation. This includes vestibularrehabilitation exercises, which help the brain to adjust to to thefake imbalance sensation.

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