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Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis is inflammation of the structures of the inner ear.

It can be caused by a viral or, less commonly, a bacterial infection. Bacterial labyrinthitis may begin after a middle ear infection. It may lead to a serious infection of the lining of the brain (meningitis).

Symptoms last a few days to a week. They include dizziness and a sensation of spinning or whirling (vertigo) that may be severe enough to cause nausea or vomiting. Labyrinthitis may cause hearing loss that is usually temporary.

Labyrinthitis usually goes away on its own. Antibiotics will be prescribed if the cause is a bacterial infection. Other medicines, such as those that reduce nausea and dizziness, may be needed for symptoms of vertigo.

Last Revised: September 12, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology

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