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is an inflammation of the labyrinth or nerves in the inner ear. The labyrinth helps you hear and keep your balance. Symptoms can make it difficult to walk or do your normal activities but are not life-threatening.

Ear Anatomy

Signs and symptoms of labyrinthitis

are often sudden and severe. You may have any of the following:

  • Vertigo (a feeling of moving or spinning, or being pulled to the floor or toward your side)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abnormal fast movement of the eyes
  • Pale, cold, or sweaty skin
  • Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears) or hearing loss

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone call if:

  • You have trouble speaking or thinking clearly.
  • You have vision changes or shortness of breath.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You are not able to keep any fluids, food, or medicine down without vomiting.
  • You have a dry mouth or cracked lips.
  • You have a headache, stiff neck, and a fever.
  • Your heartbeat is fast or irregular.
  • You are not able to urinate.
  • You have blood, pus, or fluid coming out of your ears.
  • You have dizzy spells that last longer than they usually do.
  • You have any weak or numb areas.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have ear pain.
  • You feel weak, tired, or lose weight without trying.
  • Your symptoms keep coming back or get worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Manage labyrinthitis:

  • Do the following when you have signs and symptoms of labyrinthitis:
    • Be calm and take slow, deep breaths.
    • Sit or lie down right away when you feel dizzy.
    • Keep your head as still as possible and do not change positions quickly. Move slowly and let yourself get used to one position before moving to another position.
    • Do not walk without help, drive a car, or operate heavy machinery when you feel dizzy.
  • Make your home safe to prevent falls. Use a 4-pronged cane or walker to help you keep your balance when you walk. Remove loose carpeting from the floor to reduce your risk for a fall. Use chairs with side arms and hard cushions to make it easier to get up or out of a chair. Put grab bars on the walls beside toilets and inside showers and bathtubs. These will help you get up and help prevent falls. You may want to put a shower chair inside the shower.
    Fall Prevention for Seniors
  • Use vestibular and balance rehabilitation therapy (VBRT), if directed. Therapy may be done with a physical therapist or at home. VBRT includes movement exercises while you are sitting or standing. These exercises will make you dizzy, but can also help your brain adapt to the triggers that are causing your vertigo. Over time, this therapy may help you have vertigo less often and also improve your balance.

For more information:

  • Vestibular Disorders Association
    P.O. Box 13305
    Portland , OR 97213-0305
    Phone: 1- 503 - 2297705
    Phone: 1- 800 - 8378428

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Labyrinthitis (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.